And here is the second and last chapter of this story. Thanks for all the reviews and fav's. And in case somebody is interested to write a sequel, you're welcome to take the story up where I leave it. I don't plan to write a sequel myself. Just write me a PM, I'd be interested to see your ideas where to take the story from the end.
Now happy reading.
Results of Hard Work
It was the end of April and the next ranking had been pinned to the notice boards. Harry surprisingly was now first while Hermione was second.
"How did you manage to overtake Hermione?" Ron asked Harry shocked.
"Must be because my grades in both Potions and History got better," Harry said, wondering if he had managed to get into the top ten by now. "That's the major change to before."
"But Hermione is the only one that can stay awake in Binns' classes. And Snape is an evil git," Ron insisted.
"No, Harry stays awake as well, even if he doesn't pay attention to Professor Binns," Hermione spoke up behind them pointedly.
"You know how boring he is. At least I work on History in the class and don't play games or sleep," Harry defended himself.
"I guess that's true, but you really shouldn't use the earplugs in class," She complained.
"It's the best way to not fall asleep and I've noticed that History can be pretty interesting as long as you don't have to cover goblin rebellions over and over again. There's a lot more to history than goblin rebellions," Harry said.
Hermione grumbling admitted to that.
"But how can you be this good?" Ron asked.
"I study, Ron. You may complain about the two hours that I set aside for homework and studying, but it really helps," Harry said. "It also saves me from being berated by Hermione all the time."
He got a light slap to his shoulder for that from said girl.
"Prat," She said, but grinned.
It was true after all that she nagged Ron all the time to do his homework properly and not leave it all for the last moment.
Harry went to Professor McGonagall again to find out about his overall standing. It had been four months since their last talk and he was really curious where he ranked now. It was a new concept for him to be able to compete for top spots in school with his fellow students, but the Dursleys wouldn't want to see his magical report card anyway so there was no reason to hold back anymore.
"Ah, Mr Potter, I guess you are curious about your new ranking in the year?" Professor McGonagall asked smiling.
"Yes, I am. Thanks for the suggestions by the way, they really helped with Potions," Harry said.
"You're welcome. I also heard you found out about the earplugs trick for History?" She asked.
"You knew?" Harry asked astonished.
"Of course I did. You're not the first student to go with self-study in that class. I have been taught by Professor Binns as well in school and I know how hard it is to pay attention to him. So this one time I'll ignore that you use them to not have to listen to your teacher, but don't let me find out about it in other classes," She warned.
"I won't Professor," Harry promised.
"Alright, let me get your file, then we can see where you are," She said and walked to her filing cabinet and got his file. "Now let's see. Your History grades have improved by one full grade, if you were in fifth year and taking your OWLs that would make you one of a handful of students each year to get an E, which is the second passing grade below O, the highest possible grade." She commented.
"What are the requirements for the grades, Professor McGonagall? I mean our homework is always graded in percentage," Harry asked.
"Well, ninety percent and better will get you an O, which means Outstanding. Seventy five per cent to eighty nine percent is E for Exceeds Expectations. Sixty to seventy four per cent is A for Acceptable and the last passing grade. Then come P for Poor from forty five to fifty nine per cent, D for Dreadful from thirty to forty four per cent and last T for Troll for anything below thirty per cent," She listed the grades.
"So I get somewhere between seventy five and eighty nine per cent in History now?" He asked.
"Yes, in fact you are around eighty five per cent all the time, which is really good," She said and smiled at him.
Harry nodded smiling back.
"Next is your Potions grade that has really improved. You normally stand between high E and low O there now. Your practical work is a bit behind your written work there, but I'm sure you can get that even higher with some practice. Your mother was really good at Potions and was the only one in her year that could give Professor Snape competition for the top spot," McGonagall told him.
"Mum was good in Potions? I thought Charms was her best class," Harry wanted to know.
"Oh, she was fantastic in Charms. In fact she was so good that Professor Flitwick offered her an apprenticeship once she was ready. With the war going on, she asked to wait for a while and then she found out that she was pregnant with you. She sadly never got to start it. I think you may have inherited her talent in the area. Professor Flitwick is full of praise for your classwork. You get solid ninety five per cent from him," She looked at the Charms grade.
"Wow, I knew that my essays always got over ninety per cent now, but to think he also grades my wandwork like that is incredible," Harry said happily. "Could you tell me my other grades as well? That would be helpful in preparing for the end-of-year exams to see where I should put more effort in."
"Yes, let's see. You currently get ninety one per cent in Transfiguration, which pleases me a lot. In Herbology you have eighty eight per cent at the moment. Astronomy is eighty six per cent, Defence Against the Dark Arts is eighty six as well and Potions currently the average is eighty nine, but you could get into the nineties there," She read out the grades. "Overall that gives you fourteenth rank in your year."
"Thank you for the information, Professor. Just out of curiosity, if I understand it right, the ranking depends on the average percentage of all classes, right?" Harry said.
"Correct," She confirmed nodding.
"What percentage do the ones in the top ten have?" Harry wanted to know.
"Hm, let's see. I can't really tell you who the students in those spots are, but I can tell you the average. There is the list," She said pulling a piece of parchment from the drawer of her desk. "Currently the top student of the year has an average of ninety six per cent. The one ranked tenth has an average of ninety per cent."
"Okay, then I'm not that far away," Harry stated. "Thank you."
"As I said, you're welcome. Few of the Gryffindors really ask about their performance in class. It's nice to see how you want to do the best that you can," She complimented him.
Harry really was worried about Hagrid's stubbornness with the dragon. Not only did he not want to give it up, he was convinced that he could train it that it wouldn't be a danger to anybody. Harry wasn't as sure as Hagrid was about that. The dragon would grow fast as Hermione had said and he didn't like the idea of a dragon running around the grounds. Not to mention that Hagrid's hut could burn down and then questions would be asked about it. And Harry didn't want that Hagrid got into trouble.
Harry winced when Madam Pomfrey took care of his hand. Stupid Norbert. He had bitten Harry when Harry had pushed Ron out of the way. Ron hadn't looked for a moment while he prepared some of the meat that Hagrid was now feeding the young dragon. You couldn't really call it small anymore. And the bite had hurt. Not to mention that Harry felt his hand swelling massively, which was why he had gone to Madam Pomfrey that evening and hadn't risked waiting if it went away. She had reprimanded him for not coming immediately and he was sure that she didn't fully believe his story about some animal that he didn't see properly when he walked along the edge of the Forbidden Forest biting him. As a result of the wound having started to be infected Harry had to stay the night in the hospital wing and take some potions. He was also told that he would have to be careful with his hand, thankfully it was his left and he was right-handed, for the next week.
That meant that Ron and Hermione needed to get the dragon to the meeting point. After all, it needed to go fast, as Malfoy had seen the dragon, and if Harry knew one thing about the git, he would try and find a way to get Harry in trouble over it. Malfoy hated how Harry was doing so well in Quidditch and now in his classes as well. Especially how he had improved massively in Potions. Before Harry had found out which books he should read to become better in the subject, Malfoy had been the undisputed top student in that class. Now Harry had caught up a good bit and couldn't be made fun of in class anymore. Of course that didn't stop Snape the git from giving snide remarks, but he wasn't able to give Harry bad grades, as much as he wanted to. Harry was incredibly glad for that part in the teachers' contracts. Potions was hard enough with Snape never explaining anything properly.
Once Madam Pomfrey was done with the treatment, Hermione and Ron were allowed to see him.
"Oh Harry, what did she say?" Hermione asked concerned.
"That I have to stay overnight and perhaps tomorrow as well. She was also quite cross that I didn't come to her immediately. I also will have to be careful with my left hand for next week. Oliver won't be happy that I'll have to miss three practice units," Harry sighed.
"Well, at least you don't have to stay in the hospital wing for too long. Do you need anything?" Hermione asked.
"If you could bring me my book bag with all my books for Potions, Herbology and Astronomy it would be nice. If I'm stuck here, I can as well spend the time reading up on some things to revise for the exams," Harry said unenthusiastically.
"I'll do that," Hermione promised.
"If you're out, what should we do with next Saturday?" Ron asked in a whisper. "Charlie's letter said to get Norbert to the Astronomy tower at midnight."
"You and Hermione can do it. I'll let you borrow my invisibility cloak, but please be careful with it," Harry said.
"I'll make sure that you get it back once we're done," Hermione promised.
Harry got an unwanted visitor in Draco Malfoy the next day. With his goons in tow of course.
"So scarhead, bitten off more than you can chew?" Draco sneered.
"Do you want anything, Malfoy?" Harry asked keeping his calm. "As you can see I'm revising for the exams and that won't work as well if you bother me."
"Don't think that I won't use your little secret," Malfoy threatened.
"I'm sure you will. Anything else?" Harry asked.
"Think you're better than the rest of us, Potter? Think that you'll be allowed to get away with it?" Malfoy asked louder now, not realising that Madam Pomfrey was not happy with him being loud in the hospital wing.
She came out of her office and saw that Malfoy was disturbing her patient.
"Mr Malfoy, if you're only here to disturb Mr Potter, I insist that you leave right now. This is a hospital and not a playground," She told him off.
Malfoy, knowing that the healer was in the stronger position, skulked away, Crabbe and Goyle following. Harry swore he heard Madam Pomfrey grumble about spoiled brats. But he would need to warn Hermione and Ron about this. Malfoy could become a problem if he was annoyed enough to let the cat out of the bag before they could get Norbert away.
Saturday at one in the morning Hermione and Ron finally returned from getting Norbert away. Hermione handed him the invisibility cloak back.
"Bloody hell, that was close. Malfoy indeed was out and tried to get us. Man, why does he have to be such a pain in the arse?" Ron asked.
"Language, Ron," Hermione snapped. "At least Professor McGonagall caught him and didn't believe a word of his claims that you had a dragon, Harry."
"Yeah, but we nearly got caught anyway. Hermione remembered to put on the cloak once Charlie's friends were gone thankfully and we avoided that Filch caught us. He was sneaking around the door to Astronomy tower. I bet Malfoy also tipped him off," Ron stated.
"How did you manage to not be caught? There aren't any hiding places at the foot of the tower and if he walked up the stairs he would have bumped into you. You're only invisible and not intangible after all," Harry asked.
"Uhm, well, there is a broom closet halfway down the stairs," Hermione said and her face was really red now.
"So you got into the closet to hide?" Harry asked chuckling.
"Stop laughing. I really feared he had us when he opened the door. Thankfully with the cloak on he left again and walked up. Ron and I just waited until he was about halfway up from there and went downstairs as silently as we could. When we were a bit away, we took the direct route back here. I really don't want to do something like this again," Hermione stated.
"Well, that means that Malfoy won't be able to prove that there has been a dragon anymore and he'll on top have detention," Harry concluded. "I'm going to bed now. I just knew I wouldn't be able to sleep while you were out. Oh, and I stopped Neville. He wanted to warn us that Malfoy was lurking around, but I assured him that everything was under control. Thank god or he could have got in trouble for wanting to do the right thing."
"I wouldn't have thought he had it in him," Ron commented. "I'll go to bed as well. Night, Hermione." Ron said and the three went to their respective dorms.
Harry looked over his first exam paper. This didn't look too bad. It was DADA and he thought he could answer all questions. So when Professor Quirrell started the exam, he easily wrote the answers to the questions on the paper. He finished with twenty minutes to go, read over everything he had written one more time to check for spelling errors and grammar, adding one sentence to an answer and then putting his quill down ten minutes before the time was up. He felt quite good about this exam. He only hoped that the other classes would be similarly easy.
He knew that there wouldn't be a practical in this class as they hadn't really learned many spells yet. They had concentrated on lower level dark creatures and how to behave in a dangerous situation. Not to mention that most lectures had been lost in the stuttering of their teacher. No matter, he was sure that Professors McGonagall, Sprout, Snape and Flitwick would make more than up for the lack of practical work in this subject.
To his left he saw Hermione frantically checking her exam. He was quite sure that she didn't need to worry about passing. Concerning raw information she was a good bit ahead of him. And Professor Quirrell hadn't required more than listing some classes of spells, why they could be used in Defence Against the Dark Arts, habits of dark creatures and counters.
Harry looked at Professor McGonagall expectantly to hear the task for the exam. They first had a short paper test, having to explain two models of Transfiguration that they had learned about this year and giving incantation and wand movements for four spells. That had just taken half an hour for them all and now Professor McGonagall was calling them into the classroom one by one. The Hufflepuffs had been first, then the Slytherins, the Ravenclaws and now the Gryffindors were last. Probably a good idea to avoid the students having to wait mixed without somebody having an eye on them.
"Mr Potter, I want you to turn this mouse into a snuffbox for me," She said.
Harry nodded, concentrated on the spell, spoke the incantation and looked at the snuffbox that now sat in front of his teacher. She inspected the snuffbox critically. If he had to say, it was quite a nice snuffbox. There was no trace of the mouse anymore and he had decided to add the Gryffindor crest onto the lid.
"Very nice work, Mr Potter. Especially the added crest. That'll earn you a few extra points. You may go," She said and gave Harry a small smile.
He breathed a sigh of relief and left the room, happy to have passed another exam without much trouble.
History was probably the one exam where Harry knew that many would have trouble passing. Really, why couldn't the school employ a proper History of Magic teacher? The only reason he could answer most questions was that he had never really listened to the teacher. He could as well have skipped all History lessons and simply studied in the library. That would have been as, if not more, efficient. Well, he had finished his exams and he couldn't help but join the others cheering when Professor Binns told them to put their quills down.
Now they had two weeks where they didn't have to do much work until the results came. The fifth and seventh years would sit their OWLs and NEWTs during that time, so the younger years normally didn't get much homework because the teachers were too busy to grade it.
He, Ron and Hermione decided to go outside and enjoy the sun. They hadn't been able to do that properly for some time and today it was really warm. He simply lay down under a tree and watched lazily how the giant squid swam rounds in the Black Lake. He blended Hermione's babbling about being unsure about certain questions in the test out. For now he didn't want to hear anything about school. He only wanted to think about the Quidditch match in three days.
He saw Hagrid clean a bit outside of his hut. He wondered how Norbert was doing. He hadn't heard from him since they had sent him to Romania to the dragon preserve where Charlie was working. Then Harry sat up suddenly. That couldn't be true, could it? He stood up and ran towards Hagrid's hut, Hermione and Ron behind him calling out to him what was wrong. Harry didn't wait, he needed to find out if his fear was founded or not.
"Hey you three. Done with your exams?" Hagrid asked smiling.
"Yeah, we are," Ron replied.
"Want some cold pumpkin juice?" Hagrid asked, but before Ron could accept, Harry interrupted.
"Hagrid, the man that you got Norbert from, how did he look?" Harry asked.
"Well, I couldn't really see his face, he had it hidden under a hood the whole time," Hagrid said.
Harry heard the alarm bells in his head ringing shrilly.
"So, did you talk about Hogwarts?" Harry continued.
"Well, yes, of course we did. We played cards for a long while," Hagrid said.
"Did your work here come up?" Harry asked.
"Yeah, I think I told him that I was the game keeper. Though I don't remember everything exactly as I had a good amount of drinks inside after a while. He kept buying, so I didn't complain at all. After all, I lost some hands in the beginning before my luck turned," Hagrid told them.
"So you discussed some of the creatures you work with here," Harry said. "Did he ask more about them? I mean after all if he had a dragon on him, even if it was an egg, he would have wanted to make sure you could handle it."
"Yeah. In fact he did ask that. But I told him after Fluffy a dragon wasn't a problem anymore," Hagrid proudly informed them.
Now Hermione looked horrified as well.
"Was he interested in Fluffy?" Harry pressed on.
"Sure he was, I mean how often do you get to see a three headed dog? Even in our business. I told him the secret of controlling every creature is knowing how to calm them down. Take Fluffy for example. Play him a bit of music and he's fast asleep," Hagrid said then blanched. "I shouldn't have said that. Oi!" He shouted after the three but they were already running towards the castle.
"That man under the hood must have been Snape," Ron called out.
"And now he knows how to get past Fluffy. That was the only thing he didn't know after you overheard Quirrell breaking down," Hermione added.
"I know, we need to inform Dumbledore," Harry stated. "We need to find the twins or a teacher."
"Why the twins?" Hermione asked confused.
"If anybody knows where the headmaster's office is it would be them," Harry replied.
"Oh, that makes sense," Ron agreed.
They didn't find the twins, but met Professor McGonagall.
"What the hell is up that you're running around like this in the corridors?" She demanded to know.
"Professor, we need to speak to Professor Dumbledore," Harry said quickly.
"Why would you need to see him Mr Potter?" She asked.
"It's important," Hermione urged.
"Well, you'll have to wait until tomorrow. Professor Dumbledore got an urgent owl from the Ministry and will not return until late in the evening," She said.
"Great, so that part is also against us. Professor, can we talk somewhere where nobody can overhear us?" Harry asked, knowing that he needed to make his teacher see the reason for their worries.
She nodded and led them into an empty classroom.
"So what is this important?" She demanded to know.
"Somebody is trying to steal the Philosopher's Stone that is hidden on the third floor corridor," Harry said bluntly.
"How do you know about that? Students shouldn't know," She brought out shocked.
"We know and nobody explicitly said it, but Hagrid once slipped up that we should keep our noses out of the business of the Cerberus that guards the door, we found it accidentally when we took a wrong turn, didn't realise on which floor we were, and unlocked the door as there are many ways through the castle that need special tricks to open. He told us that whatever was there, was between Professor Dumbledore and Nicholas Flamel. Thanks to a chocolate frog card of Professor Dumbledore we made the connection to Alchemy and found out that Mr Flamel is the only known creator of the Philosopher's Stone," Harry knew that she wouldn't believe them if they didn't tell her what they knew and how they had found out. And so far she had proven reasonable throughout the year if she didn't think you were having her on.
"Today when I was relaxing after the exams, I realised something else about a conversation that Hagrid had once mentioned when we were drinking tea at his hut," He wouldn't tell her about the dragon if she didn't absolutely need to know. That would cause too many problems for Hagrid. "He said that he once played a game of cards with a man at the Hog's Head in Hogsmeade. I remembered it because Hagrid said that the man offered a dragon egg as his bet as Hagrid had been winning some large pots before that point and he wanted at least some of his lost money back. To make sure if Hagrid could take care of the dragon if he should win, the man asked about the creatures that Hagrid took care of in his job and Fluffy came up. Now the thing that hit me today was why would anybody even have a dragon egg on him? They are illegal to have after all. So I asked him and we found out that he told that man while being drunk that if you played music Fluffy would fall asleep," Harry ended.
"What?" McGonagall exclaimed. "Of all the stupid things. Please tell me that we didn't have a dragon on the grounds and that Mr Malfoy's story was made up."
"Well, I think Hagrid said that he lost that last game," Hermione now spoke up. "But he did some research on them and had a lot of books on them lying around. Perhaps Malfoy thought he was about to get one and overreacted?"
"Thank Merlin," McGonagall breathed a sigh of relief. "That could really be possible. Thank you for informing me about this. I'll take some measures to prevent that anybody can get to the stone. Take twenty points for Gryffindor for alerting me to this danger. Now go back to your common room or outside. Don't worry about the stone. Everything will be taken care of."
The three nodded and left the classroom. Once they were a bit away Ron spoke up.
"Blimey, Harry. Why did you have to tell her that much?" He asked.
"Because she would never have done anything or even believed me if I didn't give her some very good reasons. I'm glad you reacted so fast, Hermione. This way at least the most Hagrid has to fear is a tongue lashing about not even thinking of getting a dragon as a pet in the future," Harry answered. "Now she's aware that at least the first protection has been breached and will make sure that the others hold up or that nobody can even get into the corridor that leads to Fluffy's room."
"Yes, I'll sleep better now that I know that the teachers can take care of the problem. But what if she tells Snape?" Hermione asked.
"Then he will probably lie low and pretend to support the protection, but his time window will be closed. Professor Dumbledore will return sometime tonight. And no thief would be as stupid to make an attempt at the Stone while Dumbledore is in the school," Harry answered.
"I still think we should also do something," Ron insisted.
"No, we can't do anything against an adult wizard. The protections are made to stop adults. Fully qualified witches and wizards. If Hagrid hadn't slipped up, we wouldn't even have a chance to get past Fluffy. We know that the four heads of houses and Quirrell set up protections as well as Dumbledore himself. And now that the teachers are on guard, there shouldn't be any real danger," Harry pointed out.
Ron had to give at that argument. There wasn't a real chance of a first-year winning against a fully qualified wizard.
"If you want to do something, come with me to the Quidditch pitch and throw golf balls in random directions. I could do with some training for the match against Ravenclaw," Harry offered, knowing that Quidditch always cheered Ron up.
It seemed as if the whole school was present at the last Quidditch match of the season. Both Ravenclaw and Gryffindor were playing with their best teams and it promised to be a hard fought match. The chaser lines were about equal, Wood was definitely the better keeper and the twins had the instinctual coordination that the Ravenclaw beaters didn't have, but for non-twins they were really good as had been proven when they had torn Slytherin apart. Both Ravenclaw and Gryffindor had won their first two matches. That meant whoever won this match, would win the Quidditch Cup too. They were called outside and Wood and the Ravenclaw captain Barkaim shook hands. Barkaim was also Harry's opponent in the seeker position.
He was a seventh year and a lot bigger than Harry, but that didn't have to be an advantage as seeker. Madam Hooch blew her whistle and the teams shot into the air. This time Harry noticed he was closely marked by the opponent seeker. Probably because Ravenclaw didn't want to risk that he took a chance to catch the snitch as early as he had done during the Hufflepuff match. Well, that had to have shock value for the other teams.
Harry tried shaking his shadow off, but Barkaim was persistent. Harry kept looking out for a sign of the snitch, but so far it was elusive. When he was sure that the snitch wasn't in sight, he decided to try out one of the feinting tactics that Oliver had tried to teach him. He suddenly zoomed towards the Ravenclaw hoops, making it look as if he had seen the snitch. Barkaim following quickly. Harry kept an eye on the four beaters and when he noticed that one of the Ravenclaw beaters had hit a bludger at him, he grinned. That was perfect. He now only needed to get the timing right. He waited until the bludger was close to him before rolling away to the right. Barkaim who had been slightly behind him to the left tried to follow the direction change, but sadly that got him into the path of the bludger and had the ball smack him into the right shoulder hard.
Barkaim cried out in pain and then tried getting control back over his broom. Harry could see that the bludger had at least bruised his shoulder, if not dislocated it. The padding of the body armour that all Quidditch players were required to wear, normally should prevent broken bones on the torso. Arms and legs were another thing. Well, now that his opponent was clearly handicapped, Harry used the time to look for the snitch without interruption.
Then he saw a glimpse of gold at the bottom of the Gryffindor posts. He didn't really know what the score was currently, but he needed to use the chance that he had with the other seeker being injured. He could see that it was indeed the snitch and not a reflection of something else. It hovered next to the goalpost and only moved when it seemed to have noticed the danger coming closer. Harry followed the now fleeing snitch that put up a lot more resistance than the one in the last match against Hufflepuff. He saw that Barkaim was coming closer, but normally he should be able to get the snitch before he could close the gap.
The snitch climbed upwards before turning sharply to the right, giving Harry only a split second to react to the sudden change of direction. Harry pushed forward and could see him getting closer and closer to the snitch. Finally he was in reach. Barkaim was just behind him now, but too far away to try to grab the snitch himself. Harry reached out and grabbed the fluttering ball safely in his hand. Only now he heard the tumultuous roar of the Gryffindors in the crowd. He held the snitch up over his head. He had done it. They had done it. Gryffindor had won the Quidditch Cup. He had a look at the score. Seemed as if the chasers and Wood hadn't been idle either. 250 to 50. They had been fifty points in lead before Harry got the snitch.
The teams landed and then Harry got hugged from all sides by his team. They had won the cup for Gryffindor. Harry couldn't help but smile when Professor McGonagall got to hold the cup with tears in her eyes. After all, the Slytherins had had it for too long now. Harry was sure that the party for the winning of the cup would last even longer than normally.
Harry watched how Hermione looked at that notice board in the common room in disbelief.
"How could I only get thirteenth rank in our year?" She asked aghast. "I was first or second all year."
"Uh, Hermione, that was only the Gryffindor ranking. You didn't really think that Parvati, Lavender or Ron really were eighth, ninth or tenth in the whole year? Not with all the Ravenclaws and Hufflepuffs performing better in the classes that we shared with them," Harry pointed out carefully.
"But why didn't a teacher tell me? I could have worked more to get a better ranking," She complained.
"You didn't ask and nobody would bother telling you to do more work for school when all teachers were already aware that you did lots of hours each day. They wouldn't want to take the little free time you give yourself away. it would have made you sick. Not to mention that you didn't follow their comments on keeping your essays to the required length," Harry told her. "Professor McGonagall told me that they only allowed longer essays without it influencing your grades for the first three months. And you always got those comments under your essays."
"What? Why didn't you tell me?" She demanded to know.
"I did. I told you in February that you should follow the comments under your essays or it would influence your grades. You brushed me off that no teacher would ever do that," Harry defended himself. "I can't force you to listen to my advice."
"But that was just your advice," She protested.
"Which next to countless remarks from the teachers should have told you that they were serious. And if you wanted to know, you could have simply asked Professor McGonagall. And it isn't that you didn't get good grades in your exams. Others were simply better, that's nothing bad," Harry pointed out. "Not to mention that your exam grades probably brought your standing a good bit up. They were after all mostly asking for things we learned this year and I know you are good at remembering facts. I would even bet that you got top scores in History of Magic and Astronomy."
Those two tests had been pure questions of their knowledge.
"But I was always among the top three at primary school, most I was the best," She stated confused.
"That doesn't mean you would simply be able to do the same at a magical school where you have to compete with children that grew up around magic and have a totally different and more natural understanding of how magic works," Harry said patiently.
"Then how did you manage to get sixth rank of our year?" She asked annoyed.
"I have known my real ranking in our year since that first sheet was on our notice board. I knew that I wasn't really sixth in the whole year, but as I only got the introductory book for muggleborns around the beginning of November and only then used some of the information to do better in class, I first wanted to see where I could end with the help. I did better in class from there on and I got it confirmed with the second listing, so I went to ask Professor McGonagall. I had some more questions about how things work in the wizarding world and she answered them for me," Harry told her. "She also informed me in which classes I needed to improve most, which was Potions and History. Those two I was just passing securely. I asked how to do that and for Potions she could give me a few better books that would allow me to learn more about ingredient reactions."
"But I read those as well. I shouldn't be that much worse than you in Potions then," She stated.
"I have found that I have a somewhat easy time to puzzle things out when I get the basic information. Like with Hagrid and the dragon egg. So for Potions I can tell what kind of potion I will get if I combine certain ingredients. That helps in preventing mistakes, correcting ones that I made and getting my preparation of ingredients done properly. And say what you want, my method for History is great. I even got eighty five per cent on the exam," Harry defended his method to study History of Magic that Hermione had repeatedly criticised.
"Would you tell me what grades you got in each exam? I really don't understand how I was so far behind you. I mean, I don't think that you aren't smart. I have known that you are very intelligent since you started really applying yourself in class. It was obvious for anybody who looked," She said.
"Only if I get to see yours," Harry offered a deal.
She nodded and took her report card from her bag. Harry took his out and they swapped them. The report card held both her grades for the exam and the overall one that consisted of the average of the whole year.
Harry saw that Hermione had what would be E's in most of her classes with an O in Charms, Astronomy and in History. Her average grade was eighty eight per cent. His was ninety two. As he had thought, her end-of-year exams had been really good. She even got one hundred and twenty per cent in Charms, which was incredible. But she had always had a talent for tests. If she had taken the comments of the teachers serious during the year, she would have probably also come into one of the top ten spots. The end-of-year exams were after all just a part of the overall grade you got. And while you had to pass them to get into the next year, they only made up about a third of the overall grade. Well, there was always next year.
He had got high O's in Charms and Transfiguration, low O's in Potions and Herbology, eighty five per cent each in Astronomy and History and Defence rounded everything up with eighty nine per cent. He knew that he had done the best he could and he was really happy with his ranking. His goal had been getting into the top ten and he had managed that. Now nobody could say that he simply relied on his fame. He had shown that he was a good student and could even compete with the Ravenclaws.
Minerva McGonagall was a happy witch. For the first time in years one of her lions had managed to reach a spot in the top ten of his year. That it was the son of dear friends of her was all the much sweeter. Harry Potter had come in sixth of the current first-year batch with splendid ninety two per cent on average. The boy had really done well since she had given him the advice. Not to mention that his warning had prevented a catastrophe.
She had alerted the other heads of houses of the danger to the stone and that the first defence was overcome by a thief. She had tried to find Quirrell as well, but for some reason he had been absent. Then, when the alarm they had set up on the third floor corridor had gone off, they had gone there, only to find the Cerberus asleep already. They had quickly caught up with the thief, who incidentally was Quirrell. Severus and Filius had duelled him while she and Pomona had used their magic to support them where they could. In the end it turned out that Quirrell had been possessed by the wraith of Voldemort. He had sworn to take revenge on them and that Severus' life would end once he got his body back.
Well, now Albus needed to find a way to protect his useless spy in the future. Severus would never be able to enter the ranks of Voldemort again after that episode. She didn't think that Voldemort would believe that Severus had simply worked against him because he didn't know that it was him. At least they had prevented that the Stone was stolen and that any students were hurt.
Harry sat in the Great Hall and couldn't help but grin at seeing Gryffindor winning the House Cup. They were exactly five points leading before Slytherin. The last massive winning of points had been the twenty that he, Ron and Hermione had got for telling Professor McGonagall about the potential theft of the Philosopher's Stone. He knew that Snape had tried rewarding Slytherin insane amounts of points over the last week since the Quidditch match. But it hadn't been enough. Gryffindor had been really careful, even the Weasley twins, to not lose any points to his bias. In the end it had been enough.
The hall was decorated in red and gold to honour the winning house, which like the Quidditch Cup represented an end to the dominance of Slytherin in the house cup. Nobody but the Slytherins minded that Gryffindor had won. Everybody had been sick of the superiority behaviour of the Slytherins, so them not winning was very satisfying for all houses. He had fun with his friends and classmates during the feast and only the thought of going back to the Dursleys the next day dampened his mood. But right now he wouldn't think about them. He would enjoy his last day in the wizarding world until the next school year.
He had managed to overcome the ingrained behaviour concerning his studies, now he could also deal with them for the summer. While he would like it better to not return there, he didn't have a choice. There were no other relatives that could take him in, and he had asked Professor Dumbledore, so he was stuck for now. Ron had told him that he would invite him for a bit over the summer and Hermione promised to keep in contact as well. Dean had suggested to visit a football match together and Harry was looking forward to it. The best part was that Professor McGonagall had told him that she had paid the Dursleys a visit two days ago to make sure that they would treat him right. He had been handed a stack of special parchment to write her a letter every two weeks at least. If she didn't get the letter, she would come to see what was going on.
Harry was glad about that. The Dursleys would have to behave with the threat of a fully qualified witch coming to Privet Drive in case Harry didn't write or they forced him to write lies. It would make his summer much easier to endure.
Harry saw his relatives when he passed through the barrier of the platform to the muggle world. They didn't look happy at all. He met with the Weasleys and thanked Mrs Weasley for the presents she had sent him for Christmas. Once he was done, he took his trunk over to his aunt and uncle and it was clear that his uncle was repressing a shouting fit over the clear warnings that Professor McGonagall had delivered. Harry knew that this was something he didn't like, but in Harry's opinion it was high time that somebody stopped the mistreatment that Uncle Vernon put Harry through. His trunk and owl cage were charmed to protect his things and Hedwig, so there would be nothing they could do to them. The trunk would simply appear in Harry's room if Uncle Vernon took it away and locked it up somewhere and Hedwig's cage would automatically undo any lock that could be placed on it. Not to mention that the owl was protected against all kinds of attacks in there.
Harry took his trunk to the car, loaded it into the boot while taking Hedwig with him onto the backseat in her cage and then looked back at the station, hoping that the summer wouldn't last too long and that the time to return to Hogwarts would soon come.
And done. Thanks for reading and as I said, if anybody wants to write a sequel, be creative!