A/N: This is it! This is the end! And it's so very typical that when I actually get off my bum and write this last chapter that the website won't let me log in/upload the chapter, but now I'm here. I want to thank you all for making this fic the most successful I have ever written, every review means the absolute world to me and you're all dead dead special. I can't believe that this started out as a two shot and ended up like this - damn you all for being so persuasive. Apologies to those who dislike the canon stuff being included and would rather it be all romance. I'm very much for keeping a sense of perspective in my fics, and thus Lord Voldemort's return to power was not something I wanted to gloss over in a sentence. I'm not entirely sure whether I like this chapter, but I think I've had enough of Eclairs for now so it's the best you'll get. No sequels will be written, though I will chuck in a one-shot every now and then. I'm working on a new Tom/Hermione fic which I'm quite enthusiastic about, so look out for it in the next month or so. All that remains is for me to thank you once more and I hope you enjoy this chapter. Farewell. =]
"So are you and Cedric like actually dating now?"
"Good night, Parvati," Hermione said pointedly, leaning forward to draw the scarlet curtains shut around her four poster bed.
They were opened again almost instantly by Lavender, who was brandishing a set of curling tongs in Hermione's direction. "Why can't you just tell us?" she demanded. "I mean, this is huge news! Are you going to Hogsmeade together? There's a trip on Saturday, before the feast."
"He's not even out of the hospital wing yet," Hermione said with a frown, reaching forward once more to try and close the curtains again.
"Ha!" Parvati said triumphantly. "So you are dating him! You missed a bit, Lav," she held up a few stray strands of hair to Lavender who wrapped them absent-mindedly around the tongs. Parvati squeezed a large amount of Merlin's Marvellous Make-Up Eliminator onto a cotton pad and started rubbing it into her face.
"I never said I was dating him," Hermione said in a huff. "I just said that he's in no fit state to go gallivanting around Hogsmeade! In case you'd forgotten he was tortured by the Cruciatus curse two days ago. Plus I'd feel awkward, going off and leaving Harry. He's in a bad way."
"He's not in the hospital wing though, is he? I thought he came out?" Parvati asked with more concern than Hermione expected of her.
"Well no, but You-Know-Who's back, and he saw it happen, that's a lot to deal with. He'll be spending the whole summer looking over his shoulder. You-Know-Who killed Harry's parents and now he's back, he's alive, and he's got power. And Cornelius Fudge won't believe a word of it because of what Rita Skeeter's written about him -" she said all this very quickly, and only took a breath when Lavender interrupted.
"He did collapse in Divination though," she reasoned.
"Do you think he's insane?" Hermione asked.
Lavender frowned a little and looked at Parvati before she turned back to Hermione. "No."
"Well Rita Skeeter wrote that article as though he was, and the wizarding world believes every single poisonous word that comes out of that old hag's quill. If the Minister for Magic won't believe that You-Know-Who's back, then he doesn't believe there's a threat and if he doesn't believe there's a threat then he won't do a single thing to stop You-Know-Who in his tracks. Everything's going to change now." Hermione shifted in her bed, propping her pillows up behind her, realising that this wasn't a conversation she could simply close the curtains on.
Parvati and Lavender looked worried.
"Well you certainly know how to kill the mood," Lavender said quietly, letting a tendril of light brown hair uncurl from her tongs. She sat down on the corner of Hermione's bed and looked up at Parvati.
"Is there going to be a war?" Parvati asked her with a slight frown.
"I don't know," Hermione replied honestly. "But the wizarding world is vulnerable because Fudge won't do anything. He says people are happy. He won't believe it and he thinks he knows what's best for everyone. Dumbledore's told him, provided reasonable evidence, but Fudge won't hear a word. Funny how he'll let Dumbledore run the country for him when times are tough and the public know, but when times are tough and the public think it's all peachy, Fudge would rather it stayed that way."
Parvati heaved a sigh. "Why can't Dumbledore be Minister? You-Know-Who would be dead and buried by now."
"He's a teacher, and a good one. And good teachers are what we need if we want to stand any chance against You-Know-Who. The last thing we need is a poor education."
"So it's kind of important that we work in lessons now?" Lavender asked, tapping her tongs with her wand so they cooled and throwing them onto her bed.
Hermione frowned. "It's always important that you work in lessons."
Parvati smiled. "Well at least you've not changed, even if everything else has. Night night Hermione!"
"Good night," she replied, giving Lavender a thankful smile when he pulled her curtains shut for her after she got up from the edge of her bed.
Hermione rolled her eyes.
"Come on, I don't care that you're not old enough, I'm sure there are some countries where we could do it. I'm of age, it'll be fine."
"Oh yes, what will I tell my parents? 'I married Cedric Diggory because he was grateful that I bought him some food.' Honestly, will you get a grip on yourself?"
"I'd rather get a grip on you," Cedric said with a smirk, causing a pink tinge to rise in Hermione's cheeks. He pretended he didn't notice. "Pass me the Butterbeer will you?"
Hermione passed the flask of Butterbeer that she had got from the kitchens, Dobby being only too keen to provide Master Diggory with a feast fit for Merlin himself.
"Mister Diggory!" Madame Pomfrey shrieked.
Cedric jumped and half of the Butterbeer came sloshing out of the flask, colouring the bedsheets with a golden stain. Hermione siphoned the liquid out with her wand, wishing she was somewhere else, rather than on the end of Madame Pomfrey's imminent tirade.
"There is a very good reason why you have been allowed certain foods and why I have banned others. Does your health mean nothing to you?"
"I thought chocolate had healing powers," Cedric said, sporting his best 'did I do something wrong?' look.
"And you're quite right, but the problem lies with the choux pastry and whipped cream! Miss Granger get those éclairs out of here at once, and if I catch you smuggling anything else in for him you'll be in detention faster than you can blink!"
Hermione's eyes widened and she gathered up the mini feast and put it all back into the basket Dobby had given her.
"Don't go," Cedric pleaded, glancing briefly towards Madame Pomfrey, who had her hands on her hips and a stern expression on her face.
"Healer's orders," Hermione told him with a slight smile. "It'd be a shame to waste this, I'll see if Harry and Ron want to have a picnic out in the grounds."
Harry didn't say much at all when they were sat by the lake. He barely touched his cheese and pickle sandwich and didn't even consider any of the cream cakes which filled up a good portion of the basket. He looked out over the water, watching as some excitable first years threw some pieces of toast to the giant squid, its great rubbery tentacles reaching out of the water to catch the food, causing a splash when they plunged back beneath the lake's surface.
Ron filled the silence with some meaningless chatter, glancing at Harry every so often. His talk of quidditch did nothing to rouse any interest from Harry who only looked up when Ron enquired as to how Cedric was.
"He's in trouble," Hermione told them. "He's only supposed to be eating certain things and he talked me into sneaking him some éclairs. Madame Pomfrey lost it a bit so I got out of there as quick as I could."
"Right old Gryffindor you are, very brave at heart," Harry said quietly, the corner of his mouth curving upwards in what could almost be described as a sarcastic smile.
"Oh come off it," Hermione said, "You know what she's like. If she's going to get mad I want to be somewhere else, and I daresay you'd run for it too."
"What did your boyfriend say? I bet he wasn't pleased." Ron asked, still unable to remove the slight mocking emphasis placed on the word 'boyfriend' whenever he spoke about Cedric.
Hermione rolled her eyes at Harry, who let his guard down, a small smile forming on his face. Hermione ripped some grass out of the ground and threw it at Ron, who coughed when some of it landed in his mouth.
"Oh nice one," he said, after he spat it into the lake. "Oh very nice. You just ruined the last bite of my sandwich. Thank you so much," he turned to look at Harry, one eye sliding down to the barely eaten sandwich sitting on a paper plate by the basket. "You gonna eat that?"
"Yeah, actually," Harry said, picking it up and taking a bite. "Feels like I haven't eaten in a week."
"Well you haven't," Hermione reminded him, pursing her lips, her eyebrows drawing together in a frown.
"Well he can make up for it at the feast tomorrow, can't he? Ced gonna be there?"
"I think so. He asked Madame Pomfrey if he was allowed and she said 'we'll see'. I think that means yes but also gives her a no to fall back on just in case. He said that if she did say no he'd put a body bind on her and go anyway. He misses 'real food' apparently."
"What's she feeding him then?" Ron asked, showing concern for the first time.
"Potions mostly. He has a bit of solid food for lunch sometimes but even then it's fairly plain stuff."
"Merlin, that must be awful," Ron said with a frown, before he became distracted by a box of large jam filled doughnuts, and Cedric's awful time in the hospital wing disappeared from his mind with the speed to rival a Firebolt.
He held onto her, using her to support most of his weight, though doing very well to make it look like his entrance to the feast was casual and easy. In truth, he'd barely walked for a week and his legs weren't coping terribly well. He'd refused the wheelchair from Madam Pomfrey, saying he wouldn't get any better if he spent his whole time sitting down. She'd frowned at this, but hadn't forced the wheelchair upon him, admitting there was an element of truth in what he'd said.
Hermione helped him over to the Hufflepuff table and he pulled her onto the bench with him.
"Stay," he said with a grin.
Hermione shook her head. "As much as I am a supporter of inter house camaraderie, I have to go back to the Gryffindor table."
"I think he's got a bit more than camaraderie on his mind," one of the Hufflepuff six years guffawed. His friends sniggered and Cedric scowled. His legs weren't so bad that he couldn't jab Alex's shin sharply with his foot, causing his friend to wince (and more delightfully, shut up).
"I'll see you later then," Cedric conceded. "I suppose it's no surprise that you won't stay here when there are idiots like this around."
"Well quite," Hermione agreed, making a move to get up. Just before she stood, Cedric caught her in a kiss, his lips moving softly against her own and she quite forgot that she was in a hall full of students. When he finally released her she felt her face heat up with a blush and tried to ignore the whisperings and glances that were directed at the two of them.
"You do like to put on a show don't you?" Hermione told him, still a little flustered from the unexpected display of affection.
"Just making sure everyone knows you're off limits," Cedric replied with a smile. "Wouldn't want any unsavoury types making a move for you now, would we?"
"Absolutely not," Hermione agreed.
At that moment Dumbledore stood up at the front of the hall just as Hermione rose from the Hufflepuff table. "Are we all settled? Oh, not quite, Miss Granger if you'd like to take your seat?" he said with a fond smile at a rather embarrassed Hermione.
She rushed over to the Gryffindor table, face redder than it had been even after Cedric had kissed her. She felt a little sick as she realised most of the teachers would have seen it happen. Snape would have seen it. The only good thing about this sudden feeling of illness was that it helped to cancel out her blush, replacing it with a rather pallid look.
"Now we're all settled, it's time to get down to business. Firstly, I wish to congratulate the winner of the Triwizard tournament, our own Harry Potter."
Most of the students applauded loudly, Cedric being the loudest at the Hufflepuff table. The noise from the Gryffindors was deafening enough so that the silence from the Slytherin table was unnoticeable. The Beauxbatons students clapped politely, Fleur doing so with a smile on her face, while Krum scowled at anyone from Durmstrang who did not offer suitable congratulations.
"Secondly, you may have noticed Mister Diggory's return to the dinner table this evening, I don't think any of you could have missed it, though for those of you who are remarkably unobservant, he has indeed returned to us. He is well on his way to making a full recovery and I would ask that you all be courteous enough to not ask him impertinent questions about his ordeal." He waited a moment before continuing.
"Thirdly I would like to take this opportunity to bid farewell to the delegations from Beauxbatons and Durmstrang, who have been most welcome guests in our castle this year. You are all welcome back at any time you wish, if you are ever passing or in need of shelter, our doors will always be open. I wish you all a very safe journey home.
"Lastly, and on a rather more serious note, I feel it is important that you know the truth about what has gone on in the last week. The Minister for Magic does not wish me to tell you the truth, does not wish for people to be aware of this, but only with awareness and preparation can we stand a chance," he paused, just for a moment before dropping the bombshell, "Lord Voldemort has returned."
The hall filled with the sound of mutterings, and Hermione couldn't help but notice that only a few of the students did not jump at the usage of Lord Voldemort's name. Dumbledore waited patiently for the conversation to die down before he continued.
"The friendships we have made this year are more important than ever. I cannot impress upon you enough the importance of unity, between houses, between schools, and between countries. Many of you in here have been affected by Lord Voldemort in one way or another, some more dreadfully than others. You all know the importance of staying strong, of not giving in – only if we fight, fight and fight again can evil be kept at bay. Singularly we are useless, but together, as a force, we need not surrender to tyrants.
"That being said, there is really no reason that any of you should not enjoy your summer. But enough talking! You must forgive an old man for his ramblings. An extravagant feast has been prepared and I shall deprive you of it no longer."
He sat down and the tables filled with food. Hermione couldn't help but grin at the look on Cedric's face as he grabbed some of everything, piling his plate high with anything he could get his hands on. Ron was helping himself to food too, and Hermione decided she'd better get stuck in before he cleared the lot.
When dinner vanished to be replaced by dessert, Cedric wasted no time in pulling an entire plate of chocolate éclairs to himself, slapping one of his friend's hands away when he reached for one. His friend scowled and helped himself to trifle instead, 'accidentally' flicking some jelly onto the éclairs. Cedric raised an eyebrow and ate them anyway, any sense of dignity taking a back seat as he chewed rapidly on the cream filled cakes, not even noticing when a blob of cream fell onto his chest, where it stayed for the rest of dessert.
"I don't feel well," he told her as they left the Great Hall later, his arm slung around her shoulders in what looked like a leisurely way but actually it was more of a 'don't let me fall' way. Hermione didn't know whether it was her imagination, or whether it was because they were both more tired than they had been at the start of the feast, but he seemed to be heavier. She suspected it was more to do with the indecent amount of cream cakes he had consumed, along with half a dozen chicken legs, some fillet steak, a few sausages and plenty of chips.
"I'm not surprised you don't feel well," Hermione told him, bracing herself as he took the first step of many down towards the Hufflepuff common rooms. "You ate more than Ron, and that's...well...I don't know whether I'm impressed or disgusted."
Cedric laughed softly. "I'm gonna miss you over the summer," he told her after a moment.
"It's only two months," she told him, "we can write, Mum and Dad might even let me meet up with you, if you'd like? I live in London so I don't think they'd mind me taking the tube to Charing Cross, I could meet you at the Leaky Cauldron and we can go to Diagon Alley or something."
"The tube? What's the tube?" Cedric asked, completely thrown by the unfamiliar word usage.
"You know the underground trains that muggles have," Hermione explained. "It's the quickest way to get around London if you can't use magic."
"Oh, yeah, that sounds good. Mum and Dad probably won't let me out of their sight for the first couple of weeks though. Maybe you can come round? You can get the floo from the Leaky Cauldron, I'll talk to Mum and Dad and we'll sort something out."
"All right," she said with a smile, "That sounds nice."
"That's gonna be quite a while away though, maybe even a couple of weeks," Cedric said with a slight frown. Hermione didn't notice him steering her into an empty classroom until he'd shut the door behind them. "I'm used to seeing you every day, how in the name of Merlin will I cope?"
"I'm sure you'll manage," Hermione told him, smiling at his feigned dramatics.
Cedric sat down on a desk and beckoned her over. She followed orders and he looped his arms around her waist.
"You've still got cream on your jumper," she told him, flicking it off of his robes with a small frown. "Honestly, I've seen children that eat in a more dignified way than you."
"You like it when I'm messy. That's what made you fall in love with me in the first place," he said confidently. "That night when we were picking apart éclairs. It was love at first sight."
"At your end, perhaps, I was actually rather disgusted with the display and didn't quite understand what most of the female population saw in you. Still see in you, actually."
Cedric's eyes widened. "Really? I thought you were joking. And you can't expect them to stop finding me devastatingly handsome just because I've got a girlfriend, they're only human, Hermione, be fair. " After a slight pause he frowned, "Were you really that immune to me?"
Hermione nodded and he grinned. "Well that's what I like about you," he told her, "I have to work hard to please you, and it makes it that much more worthwhile."
Hermione's response was cut off with his lips on hers and it only took her half a second to respond, kissing him back with just as much intensity, her hand coming to rest on his jaw as he pulled her closer to his chest, closing a gap that was barely there.
She had never been that bothered about getting a boyfriend, certainly not at this age, but she was fast becoming used to the idea, and rather enjoying it.
She giggled slightly and he pulled away, curious as to what she found so amusing.
"What?" he asked, smiling broadly.
Hermione bit her lip. "Nothing, it's just...you never change."
His eyebrows drew a little closer in the slightest frown before he shrugged and kissed her again.
His kisses tasted of éclairs, and she was almost certain they always would.