Harry couldn't believe he had watched another of his parents' years come and go. He was watching them as they sat surrounded by their friends at the Gryffindor table. It was their last night at Hogwarts and they were trying their hardest to make the most of it. They were all happily discussing their holiday plans. Peter was going to Egypt with his mum and grandparents whilst Mary was going to be making the most of her time with her dad and sisters. One of her sisters was due to start Hogwarts in September. She was looking forward to taking Hannah shopping for her first wand. Kate was excited about a family holiday to Greece. After having her younger brother Will around at Hogwarts all year she had accepted that he wasn't as annoying as she had once thought. Although she was certain that the marauders hadn't been a good influence on him. Lily had been invited to visit both Alice and Marlene for a week leaving her only at home for the remaining four. She was going to make the most of those four weeks with her family and Severus. Remus had very little planned. James had invited him to his but he had insisted that he would spend the bulk of his holiday with his mother. Sirius was returning home for a week or so before heading to the Potters' house for the remainder of the summer. Frank was expected to stay with his mother for the whole holiday but he hoped to see as much of Alice as humanly possible. Marlene would be visiting her grandmother for at least half of the holiday but was hoping that she might see her parents at some point. Their jobs at the ministry were so demanding that they never seemed to be around. James was probably the most excited of the Gryffindors. He couldn't wait to see his parents. Professor Dumbledore tried to get the attention of all the students; "Another year closes and a new one begins… for many this year has been hard… painful… challenging… Some of you are leaving, not to return… if this is you, know this Hogwarts' doors will never be closed to those who are hungry to learn or have a desire to improve themselves…"
He looked around the room at all the students staring up at him, "difficult times await us… and war is potentially at our door, knocking… but do not fear for we can overcome even the fiercest of enemies if we work together. There is no obstacle to great or challenge to immense. This year some of our students fought bravely against a legion of dementors. You might say that you are not as brave as a Gryffindor because you are in Hufflepuff or Ravenclaw or perhaps even Slytherin but I would like to tell you that you are wrong. The sorting hat doesn't place you in a house because you don't have the qualities of the other houses…"
"There are Hufflepuff students in this room with great courage… and cunning Ravenclaws… intelligent Gryffindors… there are believe it or not Slytherins' with vast kindness within their hearts. Being a part of a particular house does not exempt you from the traits of the rest rather it only tells us what matters most to you… what it is that you define yourself by. Our lovely Ravenclaws define themselves by their knowledge… their wisdom… their intelligence is what they deem most important. Our Hufflepuffs… define themselves by their loyalty, their friendships, their kindness and gentleness or character… For our Gryffindors, it is their bravery and courage and for our Slytherins, it is their ambition and shrewdness."
"But just because you choose to define yourself by that aspect of who you are does not make you any less of the rest. Each of you have the potential to be brave, to be kind, to be clever, to be ambitious."
"What I suggest is that you combine them all… be brave in the face of danger… be kind to friend or foe… be clever to avoid danger… and be ambitious to always succeed."
Professor Dumbledore then clapped his hands excitedly, "as to the House Cup… as many of you will know, this year has been a busy year… Some of you have let your house down whilst others have been the perfect example of what your house stands for… as for points… in fourth place – mainly because most of them spent the year trying to kill off my students – Slytherin with 101 points… bad luck… in third place… Ravenclaw with 290 points… Hufflepuff are in second place with 360 points. Which means Gryffindor win with 454 points! Well done Gryffindor!" The decorations changed as the hall erupted with cheers and excitement from the Gryffindor table. The marauders got to their feet and Professor McGonagall muttered, "oh dear what now?"
"Ehem…" James cleared his throat. "We would like to tell you the results of the marauders points…"
"In fourth place," Sirius started, "with minus fifty points – Slytherin."
Remus laughed before continuing, "In third place, with 127 points Hufflepuff. Well done our kind friends."
"With 139 points – Ravenclaw are in second place," Peter smiled. He nodded his head at the blue table.
"And in first place – where they ought to be – it's those funny devils, the Gryffindors!" James told the Great Hall, "With 246 points – and that's with Evans on our team as well… I swear that girl lost more than 150 points…" The hall was laughing at James' comment happily. Lily was bright red.
When the feast was over the Gryffindors returned to their tower to finish packing. Sirius sighed as he took down his posters. He wasn't particularly looking forward to going home. Their room was beginning to look empty and Sirius really didn't like it. "Come on Si," James began, "before you know it you'll be at mine and then we'll be back here. Fourth years…"
"Yeah, I guess you're right."
"You never know Marley might even break up with that muppet Thole by the time we get back," James added as a second thought.
"Yeah and you might get with Lily… or you know pigs could fly," Sirius said sarcastically.
James laughed it off good humouredly.
As the Hogwarts Express pulled out of the station the next morning, the Gryffindors sat together making their own strange predictions of what would be awaiting them in the outside world.
"Petunia is going to be a miserable…" Lily began but she was unable to finish.
Peter predicted, "I'm going to be back on that bloody diet…"
"Ah come on Pete. You've done great… you must have lost a stone!" James encouraged his friend.
"Yeah… Yeah…" Peter replied.
Mary smiled, "I'm going to ask someone a question."
Everyone looked confused as Mary began to blush.
"My mum is going to be as crazy as ever," Sirius predicted.
"I think that's a given," James laughed bitterly. "I'm going to have some good news… I hope…" He was thinking about the possibility of becoming the next Gryffindor Quidditch Captain.
Frank laughed, "I'm going to see my girlfriend for the first time in about a month."
James leant against the window as he watched Hogwarts disappear from view behind a mountain. He was going to miss the castle with all its secret passageways and surreptitiously hidden treasures but he was also looking forward to going home. The Forest of Dean was calling to him. He couldn't help but wonder what would happen in the months before they return to the school. Would Voldemort become a household name? Would war break out? Would more people die? Would they all make it back in September?
The mist gathered at his feet as Harry held this snitch in his hand. Moments later his father was no longer beside him. Instead Harry was sat in the Gryffindor common room by the fire in his father's favourite seat. He couldn't help but think that his father's time at Hogwarts had been just as crazy as his own.