When Tom stepped from his car into the parking lot to meet his friends, he was a little dismayed if not particularly surprised to find a grand total of two people waiting for him — only Daniel and Emma, the ones he saw most routinely anyway — at the specified time.
After hugs and handclasps of greeting, Emma looked around curiously and commented, “I thought you invited everyone.”
Tom shrugged. “I guess everyone’s busy.”
“I’m very busy,” Emma replied in a mock huffy tone, “and I’m here.”
With a laugh Tom put a comradely arm around her shoulders and hugged her again. “It’s really good to see you guys.”
Daniel too was scanning the area. “It is,” he agreed, shrugging slightly as he turned back without having found a trace of any of their other friends. “So what are we doing, exactly?”
Tom frowned across the lot at their destination, then threw one last, futile glance at the empty parking spaces nearby. “Well, I’d like to wait and see if anyone else shows up, but we’re scheduled for 4:00, so we’d better go inside.”
“That doesn’t actually answer the question, though,” Emma pointed out as they crossed toward the tinted glass doors awaiting them.
Tom grinned. “You’ll see inside.” The others rolled their eyes at this pointed but pointless mystery, but didn’t hesitate to accompany him.
They did see inside, and the continued rolling of eyes and a certain amount of gaping once they were there prevented any further comments from Daniel or Emma as Tom got them checked in. “Felton?” the attendant was saying, flipping through pages on a clipboard. “Yeah, we’ve got you down for four, but I thought you were going to have a lot more people with you?”
“Seems like all our other friends are gits who can’t show up on time to a reunion get-together,” Tom explained. “I thought we’d get started, and if anyone else arrives you can let them in, all right?”
Although this arrangement didn’t entirely seem to suit the attendant, he nevertheless agreed; Tom had paid him a decent amount of money. After some picky business with waivers the man didn’t even look at once they were all filled out, he ushered them down a narrow hallway to where a set of lockers stood across from a dark door. Once he’d allowed Emma to stow her purse in the former, he drew their attention to the latter and began giving instructions. These dragged on for what seemed an unnecessary length of time, perhaps because the only one of the three to respond and confirm he was actually paying attention was Tom; the others maintained a dubious silence. But finally the man finished his dissertation, handed each of them a large round button with a pin on the back for attaching to one’s clothing, and stepped past them to open the door and allow them to enter.
Inside what proved to be a cramped but high-ceiling’d entry or antechamber, the moment the way behind them was closed, Daniel and Emma rounded immediately on Tom with expressions of skeptical amusement and demanded almost in unison, “A Harry-Potter-themed escape room?”
Tom’s grin was part sheepishness and part cheek. “When I saw they had one, I couldn’t resist.”
“Of all the silly things to drag me away from everything I was busy with…” Emma was rolling her eyes again, but she laughed as she said it.
“Does that bloke out there know who we are?” Daniel wondered at about the same moment.
Tom shrugged. “I don’t know. You’d think he would, but it’s been so long…”
“Well…” Emma turned away from them to examine the tiny room. “We only have an hour, right? Since we’re here, we might as well get going on it.”
The nature of the first puzzle was immediately apparent. A big wooden door with an old-fashioned wrought-iron handle and lock blocked their path, the keyhole gaping at them like a taunting mouth. And above them, too far up to be reached even with a skillful vertical spring, myriad winged keys dangled on strings from the distant ceiling. A fan seemed to be running up there, for the keys spun and jostled and clinked together in not too bad an imitation of the scene from the film.
Finished peering into the jingling dimness, Daniel dropped his eyes to the more accessible parts of the room again. “There’s no broom…”
“And this is reality,” Emma reminded him. “How were you expecting to fly up there?”
Now it was Daniel’s turn to look a little sheepish. “I thought if I could find a broom and sit on it, the right key might fall down.”
“It’s sure to fall down if we do something,” Tom mused.
At that moment the door behind them opened once again, and they were joined by Rupert, who came bounding into the small space and immediately clapped Tom on the back. “All right, guys? Tom, you’re a genius! I would have never guessed this was your idea! How did you find this place?”
“Online, of course,” Tom told him, returning the slap on the back.
Daniel winced even as he moved to take his turn greeting Rupert. “You look at Harry Potter stuff online?”
“So what are we doing here?” Rupert wondered before Tom could answer the somewhat loaded question.
“Trying to get the right key to come down to open this door,” Emma explained as she hugged him in her turn. “And before you ask, there’s no broom.”
“Well, and this is reality anyway,” Rupert allowed.
“It was the natural first thing to look for!” protested Daniel.
“But there is a wand over there.” Everyone followed Rupert’s pointing finger, wondering how he’d noticed when he’d been in the room a fraction of the time they had.
Emma moved to snatch the prop from the little wall-mounted shelf where it lay beside a vase of fake flowers. Examining it, she said, “This is one of those official replicas. I think it’s Draco’s.”
“Let me see,” said the admitted Draco expert. And when he too had studied it for a moment he confirmed, “Yeah, this one’s mine. But I don’t remember the fetching-things spell.”
“Accio,” Daniel supplied with a grin. “I should really know.”
Tom thanked him and pointed the wand upward. “Accio key!”
Emma’s amused reminiscent murmur of “Swish and flick!” was drowned out by the sound of the shelf from which they’d retrieved the wand crashing from its supports down against the wall and the vase that had previously rested upon it — apparently made of nothing more delicate than plastic — falling to the floor.
“Oh, crap, we broke the escape room,” Tom muttered as he lowered his wand. He looked guiltily toward the door, expecting the attendant to enter at any moment and demand what they were playing at not five minutes into this challenge.
“No, I think that was supposed to happen.” Daniel bent thoughtfully to pick up the fallen vase and gather its silk flowers. “That was sort of like what happened when I — when Harry tried to use a wand that wasn’t right for him. Remember?”
“That’s right!” Rupert pointed at Daniel enthusiastically as he agreed with the theory. “We have to find a different wand!” And he began poking into the room’s darker corners.
As they all searched, the main door opened again and admitted Evanna into what was by now a very crowded space indeed. Hugs were getting difficult, but they managed them, and then the newcomer wondered what they were all looking for. Once Tom explained, she shook her head with a smile.
“But it won’t be a different wand. It’ll be the same wand, only somebody else has to use it.”
Their foolish looks at each other indicated their concurrence with this idea they wished they’d thought of sooner.
“We could all try it,” Daniel suggested reluctantly, glancing around. “There’s not much else to destroy in here if we get it wrong.”
But Emma said suddenly, “No, I get it! It’s Draco’s wand, so it can only be used by whichever of us got assigned Slytherin — that’s you, Dan.”
They all looked down at the buttons they wore. Tom had fastened his on without really paying attention — the attendant had still been talking at that point, and all he’d said about these accoutrements was that they would provide valuable clues — but now as he handed the wand over to Daniel he remarked, “I always did rather fancy Hufflepuff.”
This time when Daniel pointed the wand upward and confidently said, “Accio key!” nothing in the room around them fell apart… but if there was a more positive effect, they all missed it, for just as he spoke, the entrance opened again and Bonnie came in.
There was now barely room to move in here, and as everyone shuffled awkwardly around trying to greet their friend, it wasn’t even clear who muttered, “We really need to get this door open.”
“And what are we doing to get the door open?” Bonnie asked. With a glance at the dangling keys that evidently apprised her of the situation, she added, “I guess we can’t fly up there with a broom in real life.”
It was clear who snorted at this.
“We were trying to summon it,” Rupert explained.
“That… usually doesn’t work in real life either,” Bonnie pointed out with laughter in her tone.
Daniel just raised the wand again, nearly taking Evanna’s eye out as he did so. “Accio key!”
“Try pronouncing it ‘ax-ee-oh,'” Tom suggested. It was getting pretty hot in here, and he hoped uneasily that everyone was wearing antiperspirant.
And when the altered pronunciation too produced no results, Emma wondered, “Are we sure this is right?”
Evanna said, “I think you need to be more specific with the spell.”
Bonnie agreed. “Yeah, you have to say which key you want.”
“I can’t see any of them clearly, though,” Daniel complained, gently head-bashing Rupert as he craned his neck to look upward. “What should I say?”
“Which key was it in the film?” someone asked.
“I wasn’t even in the studio when you guys filmed that scene.” Tom started to shrug, then, finding his two arms pressed up against Emma’s back and Rupert’s side, respectively, thought better of it.
“I wasn’t even in the franchise when you guys filmed that scene,” Evanna put in.
“But there was a line about it,” Emma insisted. She added at a mutter, trying to remember, “What was it?”
“I’ve done a lot of other films since then,” Daniel said helplessly.
“I’ve been driving an ice cream truck.” This was apparently all Rupert had to offer.
Tom advised, “Just try everything you can think of.”
“Accio correct key!” Daniel jabbed the wand toward the ceiling again. “Accio the key we need!”
“Try colors,” someone suggested.
“Accio black key! Accio brown key! Accio silver key! Accio rainbow key!”
“That’s a lot of keys!” came another voice from the newly opened door — the statement and a slight, very refreshing breeze from the orifice were the first indications of James’s presence.
“Yeah, do we really need all of those keys?” Oliver wedged himself in beside his brother, cheerfully eliminating the very last of the available space. “Or would just the rainbow one do?” And as the entry closed behind the twins, verbal pandemonium broke out.
Far above the reunited group now packed like sardines into the little escape room antechamber, unseen but not unseeing, seated on the fluffiest of clouds overlooking the bustling Earth, two winged men shared a bowl of celestial peanuts. These came up honey-roasted for one, lightly salted for the other, as each preferred, and now the elder of the two — though it was difficult to distinguish ages in this context — plucked one nut from the container and flicked it down toward the subject of their entertainment. It faded away into nothingness as it fell, unlike his chuckling lament, “They’ve wasted twenty minutes on just the first puzzle!”
“‘We’re looking for a big old-fashioned one,'” the younger man quoted. “‘Probably rusty like the handle.’ ‘The one with the broken wing.'” And he shook his head with a wry smile.
“Now, Alan, you have to remember that they don’t have nearly as much freedom as we do to marathon all eight films whenever they please.”
“You still think they can make it?”
“They always worked together well in the studio.”
“I think you’re going to end up owing me twenty wingfeathers, Richard.” Alan rattled his own angelic appendages in satisfaction.
“Bets aren’t binding in Heaven,” Richard replied piously.
“Which is why we came down here to watch,” said Alan with a grin. “Look, he’s trying the spell again.”
And with another handful of peanuts apiece, the two divine messengers returned their attention to the scene below and their friends’ sporting attempt at finding a way out of a dark, crowded, sweaty, and ridiculously appropriate prison of their own making.
This was for my very own mother’s November Quick Fics 2017 prompt, “The child actors that play the HPworld characters do a HP escape room. Although maybe as adults.” I was not expecting any RPF prompts for this, least of all from my mom XD Hopefully nobody that reads this piece knows how any of these people actually act or talk, since I purely made it all up. Also, this may be Too Soon re: Alan Rickman, but there it is.
I’ll give this fic an author’s star rating afterwhile, but in the meantime, what do you think of it?