Seventh story in which a girl overcomes her fear

Amused, the Ice Queen looked at the boy frozen to ice, who had thought himself a hero. How foolish. In her realm, there were no heroes, only the end of a dream. Even his feelings would soon have passed, like a melody when the last note had faded.

And yet, even in his last moments, he had still thought of her, of the girl he had thought he loved. She had read it in his face. Even now, his empty eyes looked at her with an expression that puzzled her. Pain. Despair. Fear. But it was not fear for his own fate, even if he must have known beyond a doubt that the end of his story had come...

Oh, what did she care about this stupid fool! Love did not exist, only weaklings believed in such a thing!

The Ice Queen was about to turn away, never again to waste a thought on the naive fantasies of mortals, when she suddenly noticed something. On the cheek of the boy, something glittered...

Curious, she leaned forward, and was only more confused.

For what glistened on the boy's cheek was a tear. A single, shimmering tear. But how could that be? Shouldn't the tear have turned to ice, too?

Carefully, she touched the tear with a finger. It was quite warm.

Warm? What was that?

Images flashed before the Ice Queen's eyes. A warm summer day. The buzzing of bees in the air. And suddenly the voices of two children in her head.

"Harry, you are my very best friend…"

"You're mine too, Daph."

"And we'll be friends forever. Won't we?"

"Yes, forever."

More images. A meadow full of flowers. Bright, happy laughter. And again, the two children, this time as a dancing couple surrounded by a magnificent sea of colours. And especially the familiar look of green eyes, crossed by light and shadow, and unconditional affection. How much she had wanted to kiss him then...


She had felt like that! She was that girl! Those images were her memories!

All at once, the Ice Queen understood the entire folly of her existence. For the boy had not been alone. She, too, had experienced love, felt love ... and had closed herself off to love. She, too, had been a fool like her hero.

Her hero.

Her Harry...

And all at once, an unknown feeling spread through the Ice Queen: Fear. But not just any fear, not a fear for her own well-being or life. No, it was a fear that was much more terrible and incisive than any fear that human beings were otherwise capable of feeling. Fear for the people one loved.

"Harry!" she cried, falling around the ice sculpture's neck. "Oh, Harry! I'm so sorry! So terribly sorry! Please come back to me!"

And now tears were streaming from her eyes, too. Hot, shimmering tears. They slid down her white cheeks and over her pointed chin, leaving warm trails on the skin of ice.

Some of the tears fell on her chest, and there something quite miraculous happened. The tears managed to enter her heart, thawing the lump of ice that had settled around it and consuming the tiny fragment of mirror that had once been created by Harry's magic words.

The Ice Queen's curse was broken.

A warm, bright light shone, settling over the snow hall and the entire castle. The light and her dress merged together, and it looked as if she had been encased in the silver aura that surrounded the moon on nights as starry as tonight.

Daphne, however, did not notice any of this. Tears were still streaming down her face as she desperately begged all the gods, spirits, and magical powers, imaginable and unimaginable, to save her Harry.

And indeed, another miracle happened that night. For some of her tears also fell on Harry's frozen body. And wherever they fell, the ice began to melt. Slowly at first, then faster and faster, and then suddenly a jolt went through the body under Daphne's hands.

She recoiled, only to look into the warm eyes of her memory the next moment; just as green, just as loving, just as alive as in her dreams.

"Harry!" she cried, falling around his neck again. His body was shaking like crazy, which only made her hug him all the more fiercely. Around them, the castle of ice began to melt, water running down the walls in huge cascades.

"D-Daph?" stammered Harry. "H-how is this possible?"

Daphne sobbed out, not responding to his words. "I'm sorry. I'm so terribly sorry. Please forgive me."

Under her hands, Harry's trembling body tensed. "No ... I'm sorry," he said, his voice barely more than a breath, as if he were ashamed of his words. "This was all my fault. I wrote that story. I made you the Ice Queen. Only because I couldn't accept your decision. I was so pathetic and –"

"Don't say that!" cried Daphne, pressing herself even closer to him. "It's me who's been pathetic! I still don't really understand it, but ... I know now, I feel it inside me, I can't lie to you any longer. I love you!" She felt as if a great weight had fallen from her with those words. At last, it was out.

Harry broke away from her, looking at her in disbelief. "Y-you love me?!"

Daphne averted her eyes. "I think so, at least," she said softly. "What do I know about love? I ... I don't know how to act anymore, what the sensible thing would be to do..."

"Daphne, I love you too! Isn't that enough?" Harry's voice sounded as enthusiastic as she had rarely heard it before. How she wished she had his strength...

"My heart says yes, but my head..."

Harry grabbed her by the shoulders, but still she did not dare to meet his gaze. "Then ignore it," he said. "Follow your heart!"

"Oh Harry, I can't. Because ... because what happens to me silly girl if it turns out later that I'm not good enough for the boy I've loved since I was a little girl?"

"You not good enough for me?"

Daphne swallowed. "Something will happen. You'll find someone prettier than me. Or you'll get tired of me, and then you'll leave me, and I'll never recover, like my mother. Because the only kind of love I have to offer is stupid and blind and so deep and powerful that I feel like I'm going to burst trying to suppress it..."

"What are you talking about?" asked Harry incredulously. "Daph, do you think you're the only one who feels this way?"

"I'm not as brave as you..."

"Bollocks! You're so much braver than you know. I admire you, Daph. Ever since I met you, I've been under your spell. You're so caring, loving, loyal, smart, funny. How you took care of Tori when you two had no one else. How you still care for her. How you stand up to bullies and the injustice of the world. How you drop everything when others need your help, even if it's just a small, injured owl, or an eleven-year-old boy who had never had friends before in his life. If so, I'd have to worry about not being good enough for you!"

A tremor seized Daphne's body as hot tears once again wet her cheeks. And suddenly she felt Harry grasp her hands.

"I can't promise you that you'll be happy all your life," he said. "And that you won't be angry with me sometimes, or sad, because I can be quite an idiot. But I'll do everything in my power to make sure you're happy. And if that means losing you, then I'll accept that. Even if I can't imagine my life without you. You are the woman of my life, Daphne. The woman I want to wake up next to for the rest of my life, with whom I want to cook, dance, laugh, frolic in the grass, and experience all the wonders of this world. The one I want to start a family with, a home we'd all love to return to. Please give us a chance!"

No longer could Daphne avert her gaze. She met his warm, green eyes, in which she now saw her own eyes reflected again. So often she had turned away from this sight, fearing what pain he might cause her, what pain they might cause each other. But now she met Harry's gaze, opened herself to it. No longer did she hide her feelings. No longer did she hide her love. She let Harry see everything.

And to her wonder, she found in his eyes the same feelings that had made her quail for so long.

"I'm so scared, Harry. But at the same time, I've never been happier than I am this moment."

"Me too," Harry said.

They kissed.

And so ends the story of the Hero and the Ice Queen, of the Girl and the Boy, the fairy tale of the two lovers.

When I first started writing, I thought that these fairy-tale figures, these figments of my imagination, were entirely unreal beings whose lives were quite unlike mine; beings who lived in a different world. But at heart we are all the same, aren't we? We all have the same love and the same fear. And we all love a good story. For one lesson I've learned throughout all my adventures: people are stories, and stories are people, so one can touch the other in a way that only the heart can understand.

Harry Potter, on his wedding day, a warm summer day –

And above all, I love your stories, my heart. Because whenever our children should be unseemly, you can send them to the wicked witch's gingerbread house with your gift! Let this be a learning experience.

Daphne Potter, the happiest woman in the world –

Gingerbread house? What does Daphne mean by that?

Ronald Weasley, slightly confused –

This is a reference to a Muggle fairy tale. Wait, somewhere there must be the old storybook my parents used to read to me...

Hermione Granger-Weasley, motivated as ever –

Guys, find your own story!

Harry Potter, slightly annoyed –

Well roared, lion! Now come back to bed. I'm cold…"

Daphne Potter, no Ice Queen –