Chapter 81: The End
His hair fell to the floor with every gentle brush of Erela's wand. He asked her to change his look so he could sneak into Hogwarts. With the Triwizard Tournament going on at the school, security was at its greatest and a wanted criminal such as himself wouldn't go in so easily unless he made some changes. The more his hair grew shorter, the more Erela recognized the man. Just like when she saw the girl from her school days after growing her hair longer, Erela saw the seventeen-year-old Landon again. His hair shorter, but still a mass of out-of-control wildness. Just like before.
It was like they reverted back to those days again . . .
"There," she finally said and shoved her wand into the front pocket of her purse. "You can dye your hair yourself," Erela added quietly and put a bottle of hair dye on top of the sink.
His distinct features were his scars, his untamed hair, and his numerous freckles; so Erela put enough cover up and foundation to hide the freckles and the scars from his piercing and transformation days. Cutting and dying his hair was so he could try wearing a hat and slip in without being noticed. Hopefully no one would stop him to take a closer look at his face.
"Yes, ma'am," Landon scoffed and rolled his eyes as he stood up to take the bottle and opened it up. Erela rolled her eyes back at him while she brushed the hairs off the floor and tossed them into the trash.
Why did she bother staying and do his favor? She could have said no and left England. But dammit, it was the stupid werewolf. Last time! It would be the last time with him and she was gone for good. Erela had to drop him like he did with her. Last time for sure.
Erela waited in the living room, going through newspapers, then gave up halfway because she forgot they were in Germany and she couldn't read German! Her cat laid on Erela's lap and curled into a ball before falling asleep, trapping the woman on the couch without threatening to wake the light-sleeping cat. The werewolf came outside, his hair darker and clumped together in hair dye. He let out a sigh, then a deep breath, taking in the cleaner air in the living room and away from the chemicals stuffing up the bathroom.
"Why do you want me to come with you?" Erela asked.
"Because I would look suspicious and people might recognize me if I don't have anyone to distract them away from me," Landon answered casually with a shrug.
Wow, she felt utterly disposable. "What about your werewolf friends? Aren't any of them not wanted?" she asked.
"No," he shook his head and wrinkled his nose. "Security would let you through anyway, you've been all over the papers and constantly reminds the public what your job was. You're one of the most trusting people in the Ministry."
Doubt it. "Alright," she sighed.
Landon smirked at her for a moment before he went back into the bathroom and turned on the water. Erela turned on the TV and watched whatever English speaking channel she could find until Landon came out with his hair all dry and fluffy as it used to be in school. Erela had to keep herself from staring too long and lightly pushed the cat off her lap then stood up.
"Shall we go?" she asked and shouldered her bag.
"Yep. I'm tired of waiting for you." Erela narrowed her eyes at him, he smugly smiled at her in response. She was probably reading the atmosphere wrong, but the energy between them felt calmer. Gentler, even. Erela was still terribly awkward and walking on glass around him, it was like school all over again when she didn't know how to behave around him. And she absolutely hated how she reverted back to that sort of behavior.
Landon put on a cap and placed his hand onto her shoulder. Erela took in a deep breath and thought about Hogsmeade. The sweet little town they often visited on weekends before. And then his apartment disappeared. Darkness and wind took it's place, throwing them around and spinning about like a tornado until the ground found their feet again. Buildings made of stone surrounded them as well as people passing by toward the school. Erela's eyes avoided the trees far past the town and started walking into the stream of people with Landon just behind her.
Security was as frightening as ever, but not as terribly seriously than they thought. They all streamed toward the Quidditch Stadium, where they found that the stadium was gone and replaced by a maze. Erela furrowed her brows and looked back at Landon for a moment in question, then back to where she was going to avoid stepping on peoples' heels.
The tournament had been going on with all the chaos Erela had to go through, so she had absolutely no idea how any of the contestants were doing. The one thing that caught her interest when the champions were announced was Landon's little brother, Braiden. He was chosen to represent Hogwarts. Landon couldn't watch his baby brother compete and the last round was his only chance to see him in the most dangerous event in history. Erela couldn't even remember the last time she had seen the boy. She swore he was twelve just yesterday.
Erela and Landon sat beside each other in the middle of the rising seats; watching as family and friends gathered and took up all the room. They had to get closer to give people on either side room to the point that their legs and arms pressed against each other. She felt stiff touching him again. He didn't even seem bothered by it, he was just as calm as could be. They both jumped when the music loudly played a few feet away from them and the headmistress walked to the middle of the field for everyone to see.
She went on talking about the tournament history and how the last time it was held was in Hogwarts seventy years ago. And their last champion was Mr. Harry Potter himself with another representation of Hogwarts from Hufflepuff house whom perished soon after taking the trophy. After more and more droning on and on, the headmistress finally announced for the three champions to ready themselves. Landon and Erela looked toward where the headmistress came in and found Braiden walk with the other two champions. He made way to an opening of the maze and looked toward the crowd. Everyone cheered for the representation of their school, she and werewolf clapped with everyone else and whooped. The champions turned to the opening of the maze and the cannon fired.
The champions ran into the maze and disappeared within seconds.
The screens turned on to show all the champions and where they went. Landon and Erela kept their eyes on Braiden's screen and watched him go through the obstacles he stumbled upon. He fought a Blast-Ended Skrewt, ghouls, a banshee, and a troll. The whole time, Erela was at the edge of her seat. And every time she moved or gasped and cheered, she felt fire follow where her arm touched against the werewolf's. An unexplained rightness whenever they made physical contact. Erela tried to ignore it as best as she could, but will power wasn't her strongest ability and often peeked up at the man beside her.
Braiden just ran into the champion from Beauxbatons Academy of Magic and dueled viciously. Erela peeked over at the screen that followed the Durmstrang champion and she couldn't help but feel as if he grew closer to the trophy while Braiden and the girl dueled almost endlessly.
"Come on, kid," Landon muttered as his leg shook, his eyes glued to the screen while he watched his little brother fight a girl.
The boy made the finishing blow that took the girl down before he ran off down the maze. The girl was fine and shook off the charm Braiden threw at her then continued on her way. It was a very trying round, but it ended eventually. Braiden had to wrestle the Durmstrang boy to the ground in order to nab the trophy. The Triwizarding Tourament ended with Braiden holding the Triwizard Trophy. Landon smiled proudly at the sight, maybe even relieved at the boy's success and what it may bring him after he'd graduate in a few weeks.
While the crowd leapt from their seats to meet up with their champions, Erela and Landon slipped away. She asked if he'd congratulate his brother, but Landon felt it was too risky. Everyone knew who Braiden's brother was. The seventeen-year-old might give him away if Landon stuck around too long around him. So they left and made way toward Hogsmeade.
They passed by the lake, silently walking away from the crowd that grew quieter and quieter the farther they distanced themselves from the maze. Erela glanced over at the werewolf then reverted her eyes back to the road toward the little town. If she didn't know better, she could feel his eyes on the back of her head. Erela tried to shake it off and act as if it was just an idea in her head. Just a thought playing tricks on her.
"So what are your reasons?"
Erela looked back at him quizzically. Reasons? "For what?"
"Why you like me," he replied.
She looked away, her eyes hard and hurt and swallowed down on the choking feeling in her throat. "I don't like you any—"
"I need reassurance."
She slowly closed her eyes and kept them shut. It hurt to think and it hurt knowing there were tears welling up behind her lids. She could even smell the saltiness of the tears before they even fell. "Your smile . . ." Erela answered after a long pause. "What I liked most about you was your smile and how you could effortlessly brighten up my day." It was contagious and she fought too hard to smile back before. God, she should have smiled more for him.
Landon gently smiled down at her. "You're outrageously determined."
"You make it sound like that's a bad thing," she responded.
"No, I mean that I LIKE that you're determined," the werewolf corrected. "It was annoying before because you missed out on a lot of things and wore yourself down," he went on and walked beside her. "But you work hard because of it."
"I thought you liked me solely because I was awkward," Erela said quietly.
"It was cute," he smiled lightly.
Erela stopped walking and turned toward him. "You're not afraid to say your mind," she added.
"You're not afraid of dying," Landon responded.
"You have great hair," she chuckled.
"I know, it's natural. Totally grow it myself," he smirked and pulled the cap off his head, teasing it to bring back the fluff.
The atmosphere was soft again. It didn't feel heavy nor did it feel threatening. It was light like the air and as welcoming as a warm blanket straight out of the dryer in winter. It felt familiar. It felt like home.
"You're not afraid of me," he finally said after he finished fluffing his hair.
"You already said—"
"Hey, I'm sharing my appreciation," he rolled his eyes at Erela. "You still came on full moons, even after the incident," Landon said and slightly nodded to the scars that was exposed around her arm. A constant reminder that Landon had torn into her back and to her arm during transformation and she was more than comfortable showing her scars in sleeveless attire. Landon raised his hand and brushed his fingertips against the scars that started at the back of her arm and ended to the end of her bicep. Fire followed behind the tips of his fingers. "I don't know why I was so mad at you anymore . . ." the werewolf muttered under his breath.
Erela pursed her lips and dropped her eyes from his face to his thumb drawing a circle against the longest end of her scar. He wasn't mad anymore . . . The anger that Erela had sworn was made of him was gone. The softness of his voice had replaced the constant bitterness she had grown to build a wall from. The werewolf in front of her was the Landon from years ago before everything went to hell. Hearing him say he wasn't mad at her anymore made her want to break down and give in to her emotions.
The woman shook her head and blinked away the tears that threatened to fall and looked back up at the man. "So . . . I didn't really take back what I said before . . ." Erela finally said.
Landon gently smiled and actually looked at her with soft eyes made of honey. "I suspected."
"Then why didn't you call me out on it like you usually did?" she questioned.
"Because," he sighed, "because I felt you were telling the truth and didn't want to believe that you still love me."
Erela didn't say anything as the two of them stood there. Landon's hand slid down her arm and tenderly took her hand. Her heart raced tremendously hard against her chest, her hands radiated heat, and her face began to glow red. Thank god for the night to hide her blushing face. It was really happening and she was utterly speechless.
"I think I owe you some words," he continued.
She took in a deep breath and dropped her eyes to his chest, his eyes feeling far too intense to even look at. His honey brown eyes warm as ever and she couldn't believe she was in reality. That everything that he said and the actions they did was a dream just waiting to be broken once she woke up. It was just too good to be true.
"I still love you . . ."
A lump swelled up in her throat and she could barely breathe. He actually said it. Her suspicions from a month ago were true and Erela could barely contain her overwhelmed emotions. Landon still loved her.
"Sorry it took so long to say it," he apologized. Erela shook her head, the tears welling up in her eyes as the werewolf grew closer to her. The woman closer her eyes, stood on her toes, and their lips touched. Soft and sweet and right. Landon's hand gently cradled her head and pulled her closer, deepening their kiss and sending fireworks higher and higher into the sky. That spark still remained and it felt as strong as the first time they kissed beside the lake. They both took in a breath in between kisses and then separated.
She light chuckled, wiped away tears that escaped from her eyes, and smiled at him. Landon took her in and embraced her, immediately warming her up and the intensity of his affection consumed her. "I can't leave . . ." she mumbled.
"No . . ." the werewolf shook his head, his arms still around her as they rocked back and forth from side to side, his head gently placed on top of her head.
"I should stay a little longer . . ."
"Yeah," he laughed calmly. "Yeah, you should."
"This is it, we're really doing this again."
"Yep. We're a bunch of idiots," he smiled widely.
"SUCH idiots," she agreed in a light chuckle. Erela looked back up at Landon again and he slipped another deep kiss. His lips fit perfectly with hers; feeling soft and hard and warm and loving and unconditional yearning at the same time. And it felt like coming home, truly. "I love you too," Erela finally said, effortlessly.
The conflict was finally over. Erela, at last, felt at peace.