Chapter 24

By the time Harry is released from the hospital wing, he has just enough time to run back to the Slytherin dorms to change into his school robes. Harry and Draco make it to the Great Hall with about eight minutes to spare.

When Harry and Draco walk in, every eye is immediately on them, all heads turned and all conversations silenced. The attention makes Harry slightly uncomfortable, but he refuses to show weakness in front of the entire school. As such, he begins to stride confidently over to the Slytherin table, noticing along the way that the Great Hall is adorned with Ravenclaw banners, indicating that Ravenclaw has won the House Cup.

The heavy silence fades almost as quickly as it came, leaving Harry walking through the Hall to the sound of dull conversation. Suddenly, a voice cuts through the din of conversation, gaining both Harry and Draco's attention.

"Oi, Potter! How does it feel to have lost the House Cup? With your ego, it must feel pretty terrible." Harry comes to a dead stop, instantly recognizing the grating voice of Ron Weasley.

Draco whips around faster than Harry's ever seen him move before. Seething, he says, "What did you just say?"

"You heard me." Weasley says, getting up from his seat and coming to stand in front of Harry and Draco, practically nose to nose with the blond. "You didn't win." Weasley punctuates each of his words with an index finger to Draco's chest. At this point, both of the Slytherin's tempers are flaring dangerously.

Harry moves forward, but he is stopped by Draco's hand on his arm, holding him back. "I've got this one."

Harry examines the hard set of Draco's jaw and the coldness in his eyes before deciding to give into his best friend's request. He backs up a few steps, just enough to give Draco his space, but not enough to keep him from being able to get to Draco in time if anything happens.

"Well, neither did you, Weasel. And, just in case you haven't noticed, or you've forgotten basic mathematics, Slytherin scored higher than Gryffindor. So, if I were unfortunate enough to be you, I would shut my mouth before embarrassing myself further." Draco is using his patented snobby aristocratic tone; The one he reserves for people who are being particularly annoying or stupid.

"What? I- You're… What did you just call me?!" Ron sputters indignantly, his face turning a brilliant shade of red that rivals his exotic hair colour.

"Just sit down, Weasley. Every time you open your mouth you lower the reputation of your entire house."

Ron goes to lunge at Draco, ready to use their close proximity to gain the upper hand, but he is halted by Hermione jumping in between them. She puts a hand to Ron's chest, holding him back as she stands in front of Draco protectively. She glances back at Draco to find him staring at her in shock. She turns back and fixes Ron with an icy glare.

"He's right, Ronald. Just let it go." Hermione's voice is light in tone, but it carries over to where Weasley's friends are sitting and gaping at the bushy haired girl.

Weasley snaps his mouth shut, grinding his teeth together angrily. He scoffs, then turns on his heels, trudging back over to his seat at the Gryffindor table.

Once Weasley is seated, Hermione turns to Harry and Draco, her eyes softening considerably as she gives them a sheepish smile.

"That's the second time you've saved our butts, Hermione. I'm starting to sense a pattern here." Harry teases, transforming Hermione's sheepish smile into an amused grin.

"Well, obviously I didn't do it for you. It was purely to maintain the reputation of my house." Hermione smirks playfully, returning Harry's banter.

"Yeah sure, Granger. That's why you did it." Draco joins in with his own sarcasm.

"Well, whatever my motives, you were just saved from a nasty black eye." Hermione looks pointedly at Draco, though there is no heat behind her stare. "Anyway," Hermione turns to Harry, holding out her arm to Harry, "Shall we?"

Harry grins and bows dramatically, one arm across his stomach and the other thrown out to his side. "Of course, M'lady!" Harry straightens and takes Hermione's arm in his own, hearing Draco laugh at his antics.

Draco shakes his head fondly and comes up to Hermione's other side, offering his arm to her too. "May I too have the honor?" Hermione doesn't answer, instead laughing and looping her arm around Draco's.

Together, the odd trio makes their way over to the Slytherin table, ignoring the disbelieving stares of Hermione's fellow Gryffindors.

When they reach the table, the three of them untangle their arms with amused chuckles. Hermione looks Harry up and down before pulling him into her arms. Harry quickly reciprocates, squeezing the bushy haired girl tightly.

"I'm really glad you didn't die." Hermione pulls away, her gaze shifting between Harry and Draco. "Both of you."

With that, Hermione begins the journey back to her own table, throwing a casual wave over her shoulder as she goes.

Harry and Draco share one more smile before taking their seats next to Blaise and Theo. They chat idly as they wait for the feast to begin, Harry and Draco occasionally answering questions about the events of a few days ago. Obviously, they happily oblige, recounting the ordeal in immense detail, making sure to accentuate the drama of it all. They enjoy the looks of awe and wonder their fellow Slytherins send their way.

Harry and Draco are interrupted mid-story by Dumbledore's voice cutting through all conversation.

"Another year gone. And now, as I understand it, the House Cup needs awarding, and the points stand thus. In fourth place, Gryffindor with 312 points. In third, Hufflepuff with 352 points. In second place, Slytherin with 426 points." Most of the Slytherin table groans. Yeah, second place is good, but first place is better. "And finally, in first place, with 472 points, Ravenclaw!"

There is loud cheering and celebration from the Ravenclaw table, while the other houses give muted clapping at the announcement.

"Yes, yes, well done Ravenclaw, well done. However, recent events must be taken into account. And I have a few last minute points to award." The Great Hall falls into a hush, confusion flooding the room. Harry and Draco glance at each other, both coming to the same conclusion about where this is going. "To Mister Draco Malfoy and Mister Harry Potter, twenty five points each for the use of cool intellect while facing great peril."

The Slytherin table looks at Harry and Draco in shock, a glimmer of Hope sparking in their eyes. Dumbledore continues.

"Once again, to Mister Potter and Mister Malfoy, I award twenty five points each for the best played game of chess Hogwarts has ever seen.

"And last, to Mister Harry Potter. It takes much determination and cunning to successfully stand against one who is more experienced than you. Not only that, but conviction and strong morals are required to stay true to your objective. For this, I award sixty points."

The Slytherin table erupts in ecstatic celebration as soon as Dumbledore finishes speaking. Harry and Draco can't help but grin at the joyful looks thrown their way and the pats on the back they receive from their housemates.

"Now," Dumbledore begins and the room falls into silence as he continues, "If my calculations are correct, that brings Slytherin to the lead with an outstanding five hundred and eighty six points." Dumbledore claps his hands and the banners hanging from the ceiling change from Ravenclaw blue to Slytherin green, rousing the Slytherins into celebration once more.

The rest of the houses have varied reactions. The Ravenclaws look disappointed at the sudden loss, however, they take the Slytherin victory in stride.

The Hufflepuffs, true to their house's nature, cheer right along with the Slytherins supportively.

Muted claps come from the Gryffindor table and most of the Gryffindors have dark expressions on their faces. Hermione, however, jumps up from her table, grinning. She runs over to the Slytherin table and pulls Harry and Draco up from their seats. She pulls them into a hug, laughing and smiling.

"Congratulations! Oh, I am so happy for you!"

"Yes, yes, this is all quite exciting. Now, if everyone will return to their seats, let the feast begin!" Hermione blushes and scurries back to her table.

As she takes her seat, mass amounts of food appear on top of the tables in the Great Hall and, as expected, everybody digs in immediately.

As Harry is reaching for a chicken leg, he feels the hairs on the back of his neck stand on end. Shivering, he rakes his gaze across the head table, his eyes finally falling upon Severus Snape. The professor looks Harry in the eyes for a moment before nodding, then smiling. No, it's not just you, Harry can't believe it either. Harry nods back at the potions master before shifting his attention back to the food on the table and the conversations going on around him.

"Hey," Draco nudges Harry, leaning into him softly and staying there before continuing, "It's been a pretty great year, hasn't it." Draco says this as a statement, leaving no room for question.

Harry turns his head to meet Draco's gaze, smiling as he recognizes happiness and contentment in his friend's grey orbs. Harry returns the sentiment, hoping the intensity of his feelings will shine through.

"Yeah, Draco; This year's been absolutely brilliant."

A/N: So, this is it! Book 1 is officially finished. Writing this has been an amazing learning experience for me and my amazing co-author, FreerSpirit.

Thank you so much to those who have followed this story through to the end! We hope you continue to follow the series, because we have a lot in store for our amazing readers.

If you have any questions, comments, and/or concerns about book 1 or the continuation of the series, don't hesitate to contact me. But there will be no spoilers, obviously. Lol.

Finally, there will be a rewrite posted eventually. We have been going through the story and finding quite a few issues with tenses, grammar, and phrasing that we would like to fix in order to give people a better reading experience. There shouldn't be any changes to the story line, and if there are, they won't be very major. The rewrite will be posted on FreerSpirit's account. We will leave some kind of note in the beginning of the edited chapters to let people know what was fixed/added.

Once again, thank you guys so much for going on this journey with us!

Much Love,

RavenGrey2107 and FreerSpirit