Everything's Going to Change
The next morning, I woke up feeling numb, but slightly better as I saw that Ron and Hermione were asleep beside, clearly showing their devotion to us and our friendship once more. Did I deserve any of it? I didn't know, but I was grateful nevertheless.
After breakfast, Cedric and I then told Professor Dumbledore, Ron and Hermione everything that had happened in the graveyard and went about our business, trying to avoid everyone's stares and whispers. Barty Crouch Jr. was given the Dementor's Kiss on orders from Fudge after all he'd done, including killing his father. Karkaroff fled from the world after the Third Task when he felt his Dark Mark burn.
The Triwizard Tournament was discontinued yet again because of what happened during the Third Task and a new teacher was going to be hired to replace Moody as he'd only planned to stay one year. The news of Voldemort's return was made public, but I don't know if people accepted it or not. If I hadn't seen it myself, I might not have believed it. Cedric and I had a long talk about our shared prize winnings of one thousand Galleons, and decided that as neither of us wanted it, we'd give to Fred and George to start their joke shop. It only took a little while to persuade them to take the money. On another good note, Viktor gave Hermione his address so they could be penpals that summer.
As Cedric and I walked down the hall, watching the Hogwarts students board the train, the Beauxbatons ladies fly away in their carriage, and the Dumstrange boys sail away in their ship. It all seemed so peaceful and happy now and I cherished that as I wondered if any kind of real peace or happiness would come to Hogwarts again. Ron and Hermione joined us as we boarded the train.
"Think we'll ever have a quiet year at Hogwarts?" asked Ron.
"No," said Hermione, as we shook our heads.
"Well, what's life without a few dragons?" said Ron.
"Wouldn't have it any other way," said Cedric, chuckling.
Hermione sighed as she gazed at our surroundings. "Everything's going to change now, isn't it?" she said.
"Yes, it is," I admitted. "But we'll get through it, together as we've always done."
"The Hogwarts Four, together forevermore," said Cedric, as we placed our hands on top of each other's and then broke it before sitting down.
"Promise me you'll write this summer?" said Hermione. "All of you?"
"I won't, you know I won't," Ron joked.
"Helena and Cedric will, won't you?" said Hermione.
"Yeah, every week," said Cedric, as I nodded.
I was quiet for a while as I had a lot on my mind. Part of me wished I hadn't been so honest with Hermione when she asked about the change, yet what else could I say? My world had never been normal, but the life I once knew was gone. Nothing was going to be the same. Dumbledore's prediction of dark and dangerous times ahead was true. War was coming, but perhaps, one day peace would as well. We'd all changed this past year. Perhaps we four had changed more than anyone else, but who could say for certain? Gone was our innocence, now we truly accepted the reality of what was going to be.
We played Exploding Snap as we journeyed home and joked around until the train finally arrived at King's Cross, even though I hadn't wanted it to. Somehow, it would be harder to return to the Dursleys as they didn't know what I'd gone through or how battle-hardened I'd become. But somehow, I would get through the summer as I had done for the past several years. Somehow. Before getting off the Hogwarts Express, Cedric pulled me aside for a word.
"Helena, since I'm of age and proved that I can take of myself, Dad's helped me get a place of my own. What I'm trying to say is, if things get bad at the Dursleys or if you need anything, just write to me and I'll come and get you and take you to my place, okay?"
"Okay," I said. Then I did something I'd never done before, I reached up and kissed his cheek. "Thanks, Ced, for everything."
He smiled and hugged me before I joined the Dursleys.
While most of my future was uncertain, there were things I was completely sure of. One, I was not alone and had people who cared about me. Two, when the time came, there would be a great war and I would fight it until my last breath. And three, I was unconditionally and irrevocably in love with Cedric.