Something Worth Fighting For
The rest of us were taken back to Hogwarts by the Order along with the Threstals and Sirius. We were then taken to the hospital wing and healed up. Physically, I was fine. Emotionally was a completely different story. Cedric sat with me on my bed and just held me in the silence, until I broke it.
"Ced, was this how it felt when you realized Voldemort was using you? Like nothing was ever going to be alright again and you'd been violated?"
"Yeah," he admitted. "That's how it felt."
"Does it ever go away?"
"No, no, it never goes away. But it'll get easier."
I said nothing as I pressed my face into Cedric's chest and sobbed as he held me. I spent the night in another room with Cedric holding me and Sirius under my other arm in his dog form, reassuring me he was alive and wasn't leaving me.
The next day, Professor Dumbledore had me come into his office for a long overdue talk we so desperately needed.
"Helena, I'm deeply sorry for everything."
"You've nothing to be sorry for."
"Yes, I do. I knew it was only a matter of time before Voldemort made the connection between you. I truly thought that by keeping my distance, as I have done all year, he might be least tempted to come after you. You might be better protected," said Professor Dumbledore.
"I understand, sir," I said, softly. "And I think I know why you didn't tell me about the prophecy. You were worried, weren't you?"
"Yes, I was. You deserved the truth from the beginning, but you have already taken so much onto your shoulders, suffered through so much it's never been fair. I didn't want to cause you any pain. I thought that by telling you when you were younger, it would've only added to that burden," said Professor Dumbledore.
I nodded. "But it's still going to happen, isn't it? In the end, one of us will kill the other. Neither of us can live while the other survives. Even though Cedric was there when Voldemort came back, he can't be there when it happens."
"I'm afraid so."
I sighed. "I just wish I'd been better with my Occulumency. If it wasn't for me, none of that would've happened. Everyone could've been killed because of me."
"Helena, you did what you did for one reason. The same reason I tried to protect you, the same reason your friends saved you, the same reason Cedric does what he does for you, because of love. Love for you, and love for each other. You did what you thought was right."
"Professor, I owe you a huge apology as well," I said. "For how I've acted, said and for everything."
"Apology accepted. We've all made mistakes, Helena, but in the end, all we can do is apologize and move on," said Professor Dumbledore. "And I swear to you now, that I will never hide from you again. You are like a granddaughter to me."
I didn't speak. Instead I did something that I'd never done before. I hugged Professor Dumbeldore tight and he returned the embrace as we both cried a little.
The year ended on a somewhat better note than it had last year.
Fudge was forced to admit that Voldemort had returned and security measures were taken to ensure the Wizarding and the Muggle world's safety and he also ended up resigning his position as Minster of Magic and was replaced by Rufus Scrimgeour. I hoped Rufus would be better than his predecessor, but time would tell. As Pettigrew was seen at the Ministry, Sirius was given a trial and declared innocent, making him a free man at last and was given compensation for his unfair and wrongful conviction. Umbridge was sacked and sent to Azkaban after she was retrieved from the centaurs—when she tried to sneak out of the school, Peeves whacked her with a big stick and a sock full of chalk.
People treated me and the members of the D.A. with respect and I soon lost count of how many people came up and apologized to me and Cedric for not believing us before. Professor Dumbledore and I were on better terms now and he was given back the respect from the Wizarding World that he'd once lost before. Hufflepuff and Gryffindor tied for the House Cup again with Ravenclaw in second place—a treat from Professor McGonagall. We four were still concerned about the prophecy about me and Voldemort, but put our energy into other things. Lord Voldemort was still out there and the war would soon come, but when it did, we'd be ready.
This summer, I was only going to stay with the Dursleys for three weeks and then Professor Dumbledore promised he would come take me away to the Weasleys where Cedric and Sirius would also be staying. The four of us—Ron, Hermione, Cedric, and I—swore to each other never to give up and always stay together no matter what. Cedric and I continued our relationship, determined not to leave each other, and he reminded me he was just an owl away if I needed him.
When the time came to leave Hogwarts, we journeyed back on the Hogwarts Express and then Cedric made an announcement. "I have some good news. Dumbledore and I had very long talk yesterday and we've patched things up between us. He's offered me a job at the school as part of the security team, which I've accepted. So, I can still be with you and then we'll figure out what to do next after you're done with your school work."
"Sounds good," I said, smiling.
"So, we'll see you soon, then Helena?" said Ron.
"Of course you will. You know, if there's one thing I've realized, it's that we have something that Voldemort doesn't in this fight."
"What's that?" asked Hermione.
"Something worth fighting for, friends and family."
"Very true," said Hermione. "Very true."
We then left the train and I rejoined the Dursleys after kissing Cedric once more. Whatever happened in the next few years, we'd face it together, all four of us as we always had, no matter what.