Final Greetings

The night was dark, but then, that was how the night was supposed to be, so Harry had little
reason to complain. The moon did not shine brightly, but it was enough to cast a soft glow, so that one
could see out the window. The outline of the Forbidden Forest seemed to swallow up the moonlight. How
long had it been since he had been forced to enter that frightful place with Hagrid, Hermione, Ron, and
Malfoy? It seemed as though it had happened only hours ago, yet that was really days past now.

Harry wanted to sleep, but he found himself too uneasy to do so. This would be his last night at
Hogwarts for a long time. Tomorrow he would have to go back. Back to the world of Muggles, back to his
Uncle Vernon, to Dudley....Harry shuddered to think of living with the Dursleys again. The thought of
being away from Ron and Hermione for so long cut him deeply. And so it was with these thoughts in his
mind that Harry swung himself out of bed. But no thoughts of mischief crossed his mind on his final night
in Gryffindor. Harry quietly picked his way down to the common room. It was after two in the morning,
and he would have the room all to himself. Perhaps one more chance to cozy up in one of the more
comfortable chairs by the fireplace, and just take in his surroundings.

The fire would be out, Harry knew. He thought that perhaps he would try to start one in the
fireplace the old-fashioned way. After all, since he wouldn't be allowed to use magic this summer, he
might as well get used to making fires the way most people did. But the thought disappeared almost as
quickly as it came. *As though my Uncle Vernon would allow me to start a fire!* He thought to himself.
Harry had come to deal with his unpleasant family situation by trying to find humor in it. After all, he
now had Hogwarts to look forward to, a world of his own. His school was the light at the end of his
tunnel. It was true that the Dursleys could make his summer truly wretched, but three out of four good
seasons wasn't bad in Harry's book. Of course, since Harry had never had even one pleasant day a year
to look forward to before coming to Hogwarts, he was doing great. Funny how things could be so relative.

When Harry reached the common room, it was all he could do to keep from shouting. He was not
alone! A figure sat in a chair beside the modest fire, half-heartedly reading from a book that was strewn
across her lap.

Tip-toeing across the floor, Harry clamped a hand over Hermione's mouth to keep her from
screaming, squealing, or letting out some other feminine shriek of terror that would bring the whole house
investigating. "Don't be scared! It's only me." After another second, Harry removed his hand from
Hermione's mouth. "I'm sorry about that, I just didn't want you to get scared and scream."

Hermione was breathing very rapidly. It took her a moment to compose her thoughts. She had
been lazily thumbing through "Hogwarts: A History," when someone had come out of nowhere and clamped
a hand over her throat. She had been certain that it was Prof. Quirrell trying to get revenge, until
Harry's voice had reassured her. "Harry!"

"Couldn't sleep either?"

"I didn't want to." She yawned. "This is our last night here until next year. I didn't want to
miss anything. I'm going to miss this place."

"Me too. But at least you have folks who love you back home."

"Cheer up, Harry. I promise to write you. And Ron tells me that he's going to invite you to
stay with him for a few weeks. That gives you something to look forward to."

"Thanks Hermione."

"You're right, though."

"What's that?"

"This place is special. And I mean more than just the magic. It isn't easy to describe..."

"Yes, but.....Hermione, it's you and I that make the school special. People like Ron and Neville
and, well, even Malfoy in his own twisted way, I guess. The school doesn't make us special. We make it

Hermione blushed horribly. There was a tiny part of her that did feel a little star struck.
"My, my, Harry Potter, the boy who lived-"

"Twice." Harry interjected with a smirk. He still didn't care to think about that too much, but
he couldn't live in fear of Voldemort or his own accomplishments. He had survived two encounters with
Voldemort. Emerged a victor against all odds. It still didn't sink in very well, what was done was done.

Hermione rolled her eyes. "Fine then. Harry Potter, the boy who lived TWICE, is telling me
that I'm special?"

"Well, I, uh, that is....I didn't say that you were the ONLY special person!"

"Mmm-hmmm. Oh, Harry, it looks like you've got a long way to go with this complimenting the
fairer sex stuff, haven't you?"

"Oh, skip it." Harry gave up.

"Oh come now, how could I resist teasing you with an opening like that!."

"Fine, fine." Harry held his arms up in the classic surrendering gesture.

Accepting Harry's surrender, Hermione promised to stop her teasing. "Well, thank you all the
same Harry." She remained on the verge of saying something for a moment, as though some sort of battle
was being waged on her tongue. "I.....I never did thank you properly for what you and Ron did for me on

"There's no need. It was our fault. Ron was the one who had made you cry, and then we
inadvertently locked you in the girls' room with that thing......besides, your lie saved our butts big time."

"No, that's not it. What I mean is......I didn't treat you and Ron very nicely until after that. I
was rude. I had no right to be upset about what Ron said that day. He was right. And....I want to thank
you....both of you, for accepting me. You and Ron are my best friends here, Harry. But...Ron was always
your friend. I wasn't. It means a lot to me that you both could forgive and forget so well. Thank you,
Harry. And Ron, too."

"You two will always be my best friends and allies. I never could have won that game of chess in
the trapdoor without Ron....and if you hadn't been there, I'd probably be dead on the floor of Snape's
challenge, a poison vial in my hand." I never could have stopped....what happened if you two hadn't been

"You know, Harry, I almost didn't let you go."


"I was going to switch vials on you, so that you wouldn't be able to go forward. When you sent
me away......I was afraid that I was never going to see you alive again. But...I realized that I couldn't
take that from you. That whatever you were going to face, it was your destiny, and your right."

"Hey," Harry tried to lighten the mood. "I came back, didn't I?"

"Yes," she said. "You came back. "But I want you to make me a promise, Harry?"

"What's that?"

"Next year, let's have a normal year. No three-headed dogs or baby dragons or invisibility
cloaks or peeking into forbidden books for obscure names."

Harry smiled. "I'll try."

"Good." Hermione smiled back.

"Oh, that reminds me. I have a little going away present for you! I'll go get it." Harry quietly
ascended the staircase to his room. Once inside, he bent under his bed and retrieved a box wrapped in a
small gold-colored bow. Giggling to himself, he creeped back downstairs to his awaiting friend.

"Harry, you didn't have to....."

"That's okay. Actually, some credit goes to Ron. He's the one who found it. He showed it to me
and we both thought that it would be perfect for you." Harry handed her the package.

"It's heavy."

"Yes. It's a library book. I got permission from Dumbledore to take it home over the summer.
Just don't read it in view of any Muggles!"

"What's the book about?"

"Well, Ron and I thought that it would give you a few pointers. Why don't you open it and see
for yourself?"

Hermione gazed at him for a moment before sliding the bow off the package and opening.
Inside, there was a book wrapped in red paper. With growing anticipation, she carefully slit the paper at
the corner so that she could slide it off without making too much noise. Harry was grinning ear to ear.

Hermione finished taking the paper off the book and was now holding it up in the firelight so
that she could see what it was. "The Idiot's Guide to Broomstick Flying-A Guide for the Rest of Us?!!!"
Hermione's voice raised an octave. "Harry Potter, you, YOU........."

Harry climbed the stairs three at a time. He had been intending to give the book to Hermione
on the train tomorrow, with Ron there too. But he had decided that it would be better to give it to her
now, when she couldn't retaliate for fear of waking up the whole House.

There was no doubt about it. Harry's friends were what made Hogwarts special. He swore that
he could hear Hermione down below, muttering under her breath and plotting her revenge. Yes, his first
year was over. But he had friends. Real friends. Even if one of them wasn't too happy with him at the
moment. And that was the greatest treasure he could ever ask for.

Hello! This was my first fanfic for the world of Harry Potter. I felt that it was only
appropriate to write a short first year fic, what with the release of the feature and all. This was
extremely fun to write. It was something I got the idea for while I was bored at work, and I hope that
you all enjoy it. I know that it isn't perfect, but I certainly like it.

I would like to dedicate this story to anyone who loves Harry and Hermione, as friends or as
significant others.

By all means, please Read and Review! I can't improve if you don't!

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