The hot summer sun beat down upon the castle. The tall towers, Quidditch pitch, and greenhouses of Hogwarts illuminated. The grounds were filled with students, parents, grandparents, uncles, aunts, nephews, nieces and even little old ladies who could not remember why they were there. Standing in front of everyone, with the castle as his background, the Headmaster of the prestigious school spoke.
"Once again, I would like say congratulations to our departing students, may they be guided to succeed in whatever they decide to do. Now I ask for your attention as the Head Boy and Girl say a few words."
Dumbledore sat down as Harry Potter and Hermione Granger stood up.
Hermione spoke first.
"Congratulations everyone, we finished. Through these past seven years this school has guided us along the path to do what is right and noble. As most of you know, I am a Muggleborn and this school has taught me something I could not imagine my life without. I could not conceive a life without magic.
"This goes for everyone not just Muggleborns. You teachers gave all of us something that we could not get anywhere else. For this I want to thank the teachers who dedicate their lives to filling young minds with knowledge and life lessons. Thank you for guiding us, teaching us and most of all for being there for us."
Hermione paused as applause filled the air.
"This school has become my home away from home, and I am sure most of you feel the same. Friendships have been formed here that can never be forgotten. We can't know what the future will hold, even if we have a crystal ball. There will be ups and downs, maybe even deaths, but for everything you do, do it with everything you have."
Hermione stopped talking and moved aside slightly, letting Harry take the stand. When the applause had died down for Hermione's speech, Harry began.
"I will not stand up here and pretend there isn't a war raging outside. I will not pretend Hogwarts did not have hard times when those we loved died. I will, however, tell you, you have a choice. Will you sit and do nothing while Voldemort—" there was a murmur from the crowd, still people were afraid to use the name. "—kills your friends and family, causing destruction and chaos around you? Or will you stand up and fight for your freedom and do what is right? Our futures are not written in the stars. No predictions or Divination can dictate what we will do. It is our choices that shape our futures.
"Make the right choices and make the world safe. We have lost many in our time at this school: Cedric Diggory, Hannah Abbot, Justin Finch-Fletchley, Neville Longbottom … and Ginny Weasley. Not to mention to those who have died who are not associated with the school. I ask you again do what is right, not what's easy."
The grounds were so silent, as Harry descended the podium, that the Whomping Willow could be heard rustling restlessly in the distance. Slowly, a few lone people started clapping, then others joined in, soon the sound was deafening. Harry sat down next to Hermione, who put a hand over his and squeezed it. He smiled at her, and they both turned their attention back to Dumbledore.
The leaving ceremony was soon over. Tearful goodbyes were given, students were hugging and asking to keep in touch. Harry was saying goodbye to Dean and Seamus, his roommates.
"I'm sorry for all the grief I gave you Harry," Seamus said. "Me mam didn't want to believe it, so she made me not believe it. I'll be on your side 'til You-Know-Who has gone."
"Thanks Seamus," Harry replied. This was the first time in two years Seamus had actually apologized. Even after Neville had died in their 6th year, Seamus had said nothing. Harry wasn't looking for an apology, not now. He just needed to know he had Seamus's support.
"Harry, will you keep in touch with me? I want to help, for Ginny's sake," Dean requested soberly.
"I will," Harry nodded. He knew Dean felt like he blamed himself for Ginny's death. Harry had a hard time refraining himself from blaming Dean as well.
Emotions were rife as Harry greeted the Weasley family. Mr. and Mrs. Weasley, Bill, Fred and George, the whole family, was present. Hugs, pats on the backs and shaken hands were exchanged throughout the Weasleys, Hermione and Harry. Mrs. Weasley hugged her son, Ron, then Hermione and, finally, Harry.
"We didn't just come for Ron," she whispered to Harry. Harry smiled at her -- she had no idea what that meant to him. For her and her family to still be standing beside him after all he had done to them. He had put them in so much danger. He had caused them so much pain. He marveled at their forgiveness for him and he loved them for it.
"Thank you," he simply said.