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Chapter 55: Graduation
Author’s Final Note:
First of all, I want to congratulate you for clicking the last chapter of my story. There are not many who bother to stick with a story which has over 116 000 words. Thanks to all who have reviewed to encourage, give me feedback and cheer me on. It means everything to me. I hope you enjoy the ending I chose to close down this story with… It feels really good to end it here, but very sad at the same time. Many of you have probably heard about a planned sequel, but I've decided I won't do it. I have started writing it, but I decided I won't finish it or publish it here.
So there will be no sequel.
The reason for this is following: It would be a huge amount of work, and I don't think I have the time this year. I'm afraid of repeating myself, especially with the dancing-parts, and I just feel it's right to end it here. The plot I'd sketched up was very advanced and deep, and it would take a lot of energy to get it right, to give it the glory I wanted it to have.
Dance . . . no translation needed.
- Kristy Nilsson
I woke up as the sunshine sent sparkles through the window in the morning. I rolled over on my back, startling as I realised I wasn’t alone.
‘Who has climbed into my bed?’ I thought in surprise, looking at the person next to me.
When I realised it was James, a smiled spread across my face. As I noticed we were in his dormitory as well, the events of the previous night washed over me. I closed my eyes, trying to remember it all.
"Lily?" James said tiredly next to me. "What time is it?"
I looked quickly at the watch next to his bed, my eyes going wide as I realised how late it was.
"It’s nearly noon," I told him. "The end of term feast is at three, maybe I should leave and pack my trunk?"
"Just… five more minutes," James smiled, pulling me into his arms. I felt his calm breath into my hair, and his skin against my naked body.
"I love you, Lily," James whispered.
I had heard him say that many times during the night, but somehow this time it sank in.
"I love you too," I replied with a genuine smile he could feel, but not see.
"You’re not in any pain, are you?" James said carefully, stroking my stomach with his soft fingers.
"No, I’m fine now," I said, putting my hand on top of his.
"I’m glad," James smiled, kissing my neck with affection.
"I really should get going," I laughed, because his kiss tickled me.
"Ok, ballerina," James said, sitting up as I pulled the covers off me and shoved myself to the bedside.
I felt his eyes on me as I got out, looking for my underwear. I pulled it on, feeling more comfortable at once.
"You’re really beautiful, you know that?" I heard James from the bed.
I just smiled at him, pulling my skirt and top on.
"I’ll see you later," I said softly, walking over to him and putting a long tender kiss on his lips before leaving.
Back in my dorm, I almost ripped off my tight party-clothes, removed all the makeup and put on a pair of very baggy trousers. My favourite green ones, actually. I also pulled a college jumper over my head, lifting my hair into a bun.
Somehow, I felt my hands shaking as I started to fold my clothes and collect my things into the trunk.
‘I can’t believe I did it,’ I said quietly to myself inside my head. ‘It’s so surreal.’
To be honest, I had always been determined to wait until I married. I didn’t see the point about messing around with so deep emotional stuff when you weren’t sharing your life with that person. And I was somehow mad at myself for it.
But still it felt so right, so natural, without regret.
‘James has always been the exception.’
I turned on my music player, letting some cheerful tones pierce my deep thoughts. I turned around quickly as the door suddenly opened, and Anna came in.
"Where did you go last night?" Anna said with a concerned look on her face, turning the music off with a swish of her wand. "We were worried."
Hillary became visible in the door, nodding.
I smiled with raised eyebrows at their reaction.
"Come on, you must have known," I said obviously.
"We made assumptions, especially after Remus came over a billion times asking if we’d seen James," she explained.
"You’re assumptions were correct," I pointed, returning to my trunk.
"So… how did it go?" Hillary asked. "Are you back together?"
"You might say so," I said casually, making space for more of my things.
"That’s what I thought," I heard Anna whisper.
"What about you?" I turned the conversation.
"Me?" Anna said in confusion.
"Yeah… did you hook up with anybody?" I winked.
Hillary gave her a noticeable push in the back.
"Well… Remus," she said shyly, blushing.
"Good girl," I hugged her. "I knew you’d end up together."
"He’s so sweet… I would never have thought I’d…"
"Oh, she’s in love!" I exclaimed, almost jumping up and down.
"I know," Hillary said excitedly, looking restless.
"Was that all?" I turned around again, very happy for Anna, but at the same time eager to get them out so I could finish packing and thinking.
"Yeah, well…" Hillary said uneasily.
"I need to finish this, we can talk later, right?" I said cheerfully.
"Ok," Anna laughed, pushing Hillary out before leaving herself.
‘Am I going to tell them?’ I thought. ‘They are my best friends, and I think it’d be natural to tell them. But at the same time not.’
I kept arguing with myself.
‘Maybe I should calm down myself first, and just take it easy. They’ll know soon enough.’
When I was finished packing, I decided to take a shower before getting ready for the feast.
I soaped my body starting at the shoulders and finishing down the legs.
‘Where only hours ago James gave me the most gentle of touches…’
I just couldn’t get it out of my head.
My hand was once again linked with James’s on my way to the Great Hall some time later. Continuous bubbles flew in my body. Everybody I met, smiled at me so warmly I wondered if they knew that I had found him again. If they knew that I had for the first time given myself to someone I knew I could trust.
All the seventh-years were seated at the end of the Gryffindor table, gathered for the last time. The food somehow tasted better than it used to, and the smiles of everybody present were brighter than I remembered them. Somehow, everything lingered a little bit longer than usual. As the food disappeared, I reached for my bag on the floor next to me.
My dancing bag was over my shoulder for the last time at Hogwarts. I kissed James briefly before running off to a chamber I could change before the dance began. I met Lindsay there, and her grin was not more shy than everybody else’s.
She also had tears in her eyes.
"Your last dance," she whispered to me in a hug. "Your last dance here.."
I was close to crying myself.
"I’ll put the music on for you," Lindsay smiled before she left. "I know you’ll be brilliant."
I zipped open my bag, finding what I was going to wear. It wasn’t the usual blue leotard, or a tutu. I was going to wear black tights, black dancing slippers and a white dancing top. It had long arms, and was slipped over my long finger to make a V on the top of my wrist. It ran to the middle of my thigh, with splits on the sides. It was a pearly, nice white. I pulled it on, my heart beating while waiting for Dumbledore to announce my appearance.
"And now…" I heard Dumbledore say from the staff table. "Lily Evans will perform her last dance at Hogwarts for us."
The applause filled the hall, and I ran out onto the platform, posing in my start position. I heard Lindsay put the music on, and I started dancing.
‘Is she really mine?’ James kept thinking through the whole dance Lily was flying into. It made his heart jump, and he smiled as he watched her dance. It wasn’t ballet, he could see that. It was more free, more empathising, more soft.. Lily looked like she had the time of her life.
"Isn’t she beautiful, Padfoot?" James asked Sirius, who sat next to him.
"She sure is," he replied. "It’s different from the solo she had in the Autumn show, but it’s still stunning."
"I can almost even see she has improved. I mean; look at her! She’s so free, so determined.. she really knows what she’s doing. She’s not scared and insecure, like she was last time," James commented.
"Deep, Prongs," Sirius nodded, patting his back.
‘It’s almost as if I want to run onto that stage and dance together with her,’ he thought surprisingly. ‘But not even I would do somthing so foolish. Not on my graduation day!’
"She’s so brave," Remus whispered into Anna’s ear, kissing her cheek.
She nodded, not taking her eyes off her best friend.
"I think her dream has been fulfilled today," Anna whispered. "Lily’s dream has been to be happy, and free… Stripped of everything but dancing."
Sirius nudged Anna.
"Stripped of everything but dancing? I can still see clothes.. there isn’t anything wrong with me, is it?"
Anna bumped Sirius in the side, smiling amusedly.
"It was a way of expression, Sirius," she said.
He shrugged, looking back at what looked like an angel dancing as if it had never danced before.
Remus kept smiling as he watched Lily… Lily Evans. The girl who had been there for him when nobody else had. Not only was she an astonishingly good witch, she was also a good person. She was caring, exceptionally kind and fair. She also had the ability to the see the beauty in others. Often when the person could not see it in themselves… How could he ever repay her?
A little smile crept onto his face. Lily had no idea what was waiting her… But Remus was not sure how it would turn out. Only time would tell.
He stroked Anna’s arm affectionately, before clapping as Lily smiled her widest smile and bowed deeply. The Great Hall roared with applause, it looked like even Dorothy had managed to put her dislike of Lily behind.
As she came back she was practically killed with hugs and praise, shining like the sun.
With the envelope trembling in my hands, I sat on James’ lap outside in the grounds. The ceremony was over, and it was an hour until the Hogwarts Expressed rolled out from Hogsmeade.
"Just open it, you’re even making me nervous!" he complained, bumping his knee up and down to tease me.
"You open it," I said, turning around to face him.
James’ eyebrows flew up, then his mischievous smile crept onto his face.
"Sure? It’s your ballet-result.."
I nodded, looking at how excited he was.
He used his index finger to open the envelope, dragging out a thick white paper. He frowned deeply, and I looked expectantly at him.
"Let’s see…" he started slowly. "Technique generally well, good coping with the music and nice poses. Good posture and spacing. Enjoyable performance. Passed with 90%"
I squeezed James as I let out an enjoyable scream.
"I passed! I passed! With 90 blasted percent!"
I jumped up, running around with my arms in the air for a couple of rounds. James just sat laughing and smiling at me.
I ran back to him, devouring his lips.
"I’m so happy!" I exclaimed.
"I can tell," James smiled, fixing my hair, which was windswept. "Maybe we should get down to Hogsmeade?"
I nodded, taking his hand.
I watched as all my friends reached for their trunks, picking up their muggle jackets and exchanging looks. I watched them, one after one, walking out in silence.
"Aren’t you coming, ballerina?" James cooed, standing in the door.
"I just.. don’t want to leave," I said restlessly. "I’ll never sit in this train again, unless I decide to become a teacher at Hogwarts."
James smiled, coming over to me and reaching out his hand.
I took it, letting him walk with me out of the Hogwarts Express. My trunk rolled willingly after me on the platform as we walked over to the others, who stood in a big crowd.
Sirius was the first to break the silence.
"Friends…" he said carefully. "It’s been an honour spending seven memorable years together with you."
Remus nodded, reaching for something behind him.
"I knew it!" I said, not sounding surprised as he threw a bottle of butterbeer to each person in the ring.
He opened his, holding it up.
"To friendship," James said with a serious face.
"To Hogwarts," Remus continued.
"To our fellowship," Sirius said next.
Everybody looked at Anna, Hillary, Jennifer, Peter and me.
"To the future," I ended.
James looked at me with positive surprise.
The bottles were congregated at the middle, and everybody took a large sip. The dead silence following it was not mistakable.
"This is not the end," Sirius laughed, looking at our sad faces. "We’ll keep in touch! All of us.. we won’t be separated, we won’t get lost. Just because we’re not at Hogwarts anymore doesn’t mean our bonds will be forgotten."
Anna’s face lit up, and she placed Remus’ hand around her waist. James pulled me close, and everybody laughed.
Sirius pulled everybody into a breath-taking group-hug, almost having tears in his eyes.
"Party next weekend, James?" he smirked.
"You be sure of it," James grinned back.
Then the girls came over, hugging me.
"We have to go now, but we’ll send owls, ok?"
I loosened their grip, looking at three of my best friends.
"Thanks," I smiled. "I will owl you back."
"Take care, Lily," Peter smiled shyly.
"See you soon, there’s a meeting for… err.. the Phoenix club we started, remember?" Remus yelled awkwardly, receiving strange looks from Anna. He walking away with Sirius, who just winked attractively at me.
James reached for me as they all walked out of our sight.
He played with my hair, looking me into my eyes. A sparkle I hadn’t seen there before was visible. He placed a soft kiss on my lips, before cupping my face.
At that moment, I had to tell him. I didn’t want to keep it away anymore, and a strong feeling inside told me to let him know.
"James?" I asked insecurely.
He looked puzzled at me, but his lips were still smiling.
"What is it? It looks like you’ve got something on your mind."
I avoided his look shyly.
"I do," I said thoughtfully. "And I want to be honest with you."
James looked a little bit more apprehensive now. What did he think I meant? I was quite nervous about telling him this, but had decided he needed to know. I even felt slightly embarrassed telling him.
"Tell me," James said, almost swallowing hardly.
I hated how I ruined this moment.
"Last night…" I began, looking up at him.
"You don’t regret it, do you?" James said quickly.
He had said what was on his mind, and I really understood that.
"No, not directly," I whispered, then smiled. "It was wonderful, but…"
"But what?" James pushed carefully.
"I think it was wrong just the same. You’re probably going to say I’m a silly girl with unreasonable believes, and I know I should have told you. I don’t know why I let what happened last night happen, but…"
"We had sex, Lily. It’s not a dangerous thing to say."
"I know," I tried to continue. "But the thing is… I don’t really believe in sleeping together before marriage."
I said the last sentence so quickly I almost drowned in my own words.
"Come again?" James said, his face like a question mark.
"I don’t believe in sleeping together before marriage," I said clearly. "So technically, last night shouldn’t have happened."
James’s shoulders sagged.
"Then why did it? Why didn’t you tell me? Why didn’t you stop yourself… or me?" he said. He didn’t sound angry, just concerned… and surprised.
"Because…" I smiled slightly against my own will. "It felt so right. You’re probably going to leave me for saying this…"
I looked up at the ceiling of the station.
"But I didn’t feel bad about it at all at the moment. And I really don’t do now either. Even though my believes on that matter is quite strong."
James sighed, and shook his head slightly.
"You naughty girl!" he teased. "You know I would have waited."
"I have to ask you something really important, Lily…" he then said quite seriously.
A curve appeared in my forehead, and a little lump was forming in my chest.
"What is it?" I asked apprehensively.
"It’s life-changing," James deepened.
I raised my eyebrows. What the heck was he talking about?
Then he took a step away from me, surveying my puzzled expression. He looked a little nervous as he suddenly bent down on one knee. He dived into his right pocket, bringing up a white ring with a single sparkling green stone.
Suddenly I understood what he was about to do, and my heart started pounding like crazy. I knew that the person in front of me was the one I was going to share everything with. Everything.
He ruffled through his dark hair, looking up at me. His eyes were clear and honest as he said in a soft voice;
"Lily Evans… Will you marry me?"