Leaving Hogwarts

At the feast, Slytherin's victory was celebrated.

They'd won the Cup seven years in a row now and the Hall was decorated with green and silver banners. The four of us were at the Gryffindor table splitting some cheesecake together and ignoring Malfoy's smug looks. Everyone was chatting and cheering, but they all fell silent when Professor Dumbledore stood up.

"Another year gone!" he said. "The House Cup needs awarding and the points stand thus: in fourth place, Gryffindor with three hundred and twelve points; in third place, Hufflepuff with three hundred and fifty-two points; in second place, Ravenclaw with four hundred and fifty-two points; and in first place with four hundred and seventy-two points, Slytherin House," said Dumbledore.

There was even greater cheering than before but all fell silent when Dumbledore held up his hands. "Yes, well-done, Slytherin, well done. But recent events must be taken into account and there are a few last-minute points I need to award. First, to Miss Hermione Granger for the cool use of intellect when others were in grave peril, I award Gryffindor House fifty points."

There was cheering and Hermione buried her blushing face in her hands.

"Second, to Mr. Ronald Weasley, for the best well-played game of chess Hogwarts has seen these many years, fifty points."

Ron looked stunned and smiled.

"Third, to Miss Helena Potter for pure nerve and outstanding courage, I award Gryffindor House, sixty points."

I blushed slightly when Cedric patted my shoulder and smiled.

"Fourth, to Mr. Cedric Diggory, for being the truest and most loyal Hufflepuff that Hogwarts has seen these many years, I award Hufflepuff House, one hundred and thirty points."

Cedric looked both stunned and touched as I squeezed his hand and mouthed, "You did brilliantly!"

"Finally, it takes a great deal of courage to stand up to our enemies, but a great deal more to stand up to our friends, I award ten points to Neville Longbottom."

Neville, having never so much as won a single point for Gryffindor before, looked to be on the verge of tears.

The hall then burst into applause as Gryffindor and Hufflepuff were now tied for first place. Dumbledore clapped his hands and went on, "Assuming that my calculations are correct, I believe a change of decoration is in order." He clapped his hands and then the green and silver banners became replaced with ones of scarlet and gold and black and yellow. "Gryffindor and Hufflepuff win the House Cup."

If possible, the cheers got louder and everyone tossed their hats into the air and shook everyone's hands. It was one of the happiest nights of my life and I never wanted it to end. One thing was for sure, I wasn't going to forget this night anytime soon.

The next day, we all got our report cards. We'd all done considerably well and Hermione had been the best of our year, of course. And that afternoon, we all boarded the train and prepared to leave. As Privet Drive had never been my home and Hogwarts had, I didn't want to leave, but I had no choice. Before joining my friends on the train, I ran up to Hagrid who was making sure the students got on the train.

"Thought you were leaving without saying good-bye, did you?" he said, smiling. Before I could reply, he handed me a red book. "I got this for you. Early birthday present."

I opened it to find pictures of my parents together and holding me as a baby. Tears of joy stung my eyes as I hugged Hagrid tight. "Thanks, Hagrid," I said, smiling.

"I'm glad you like it," he said. "Oh, and Helena, if that dolt of a cousin of yours, Dudley, gives you any grief, you could always threaten him with a nice pair of ears to go with that tail of his."

I grinned as I knew that the Dursleys didn't know I wasn't allowed to use magic outside of school until I was seventeen. "I'll remember that. I'll see you later, Hagrid."

"See you later," he said.

I walked up to the others and joined them just as the train was about to leave.

"Feels strange to be going home, doesn't it?" said Hermione.

"I'm not going home, not really," I replied, as we got onboard and left Hogwarts.

We made plans for the summer and then went back to King's Cross where I was picked up by the Dursleys. Before joining them, I hugged Cedric good-bye.

"You'll write to me this summer, won't you?" I asked.

"Of course I will. I'll write three times a week by Muggle mail and owl if I need to," he promised. "Before long, we'll be at Ron's house and enjoying summer together, I promise. You're not getting rid of me that easily, Helena."

"I don't intend to," I said, smiling. "See you around."

"See you."