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Chapter 29: Epilogue: This is the Story of Us All
Disclaimer: I'm not JKR. Chapter title and summary come from the song Pictures of You by The Last Goodnight. Listen to it, it's beautiful.
“Corinne! Dom! Hurry the bloody hell up!”
Dom sighed and made a disapproving hum at the boys’ impatience, before shouting back down the stairwell. “Just a minute!”
She walked back over to the mirror she’d been staring into for the past hour and used her wand to smooth down her hair for what felt like the millionth time. She then looked down to the graduation cap she was holding in her hand and up to me with a pout. “I can’t do this.”
“Dom, it’s just a hat,” I mused, grabbing the cap out of her hand and placing it on her head. I made sure to smooth down her hair after placing the cap on, so that there weren’t any stray hairs. “You look fine.”
“But this hat is making my head look all weird,” Dom moaned as she studied her reflection in the mirror. “I look awful!”
“You don’t look awful,” I said, letting out a sigh, as I looked at Dom. “You’re a veela. Veela’s can’t look awful.”
Dom pouted again and crossed her arms. “Can you just let me complain one last time?”
“No, actually, I can’t,” I said easily. “I want our last memories together to be good ones. Not ones with you complaining about the stupid hat that we’re all required to wear.”
“Well of course you’re not going to complain. The hat looks good on you!” Dom explained, pointing to the graduation cap that was resting on my loosely curled hair. “You don’t know what it’s like to look like shit on the day of your graduation.”
“And again, you don’t look like shit,” I stated to Dom with an eye roll.
“You’re my best friend, you have to say that,” Dom stated, before turning back to the mirror and making another disapproving face. “I mean look at these robes! They’re so lumpy and sad looking. I want to wear powder blue!”
“Dom, you are wearing powder blue,” I said, gesturing to the powder blue graduation cord that all the Beauxbatons students were required to wear at graduation. It was a way to distinguish us from the Hogwarts students, without us looking in Headmistress McGonagall’s words like a “mish mash of rowdy students”.
“You know what I meant,” Dom said, giving me an annoyed look. “I want an all powder blue graduation robe.”
Before I could respond, the boys’ calls broke yet again into our conversation.
“Corinne! Dom! You better bloody well be headed down here now, or we’re leaving without you!”
“Fine, fine,” Dom called down the stairwell again, making a face that none of the boys could see, seeing as they were waiting for us in the Common room below. “Don’t let your panties get in such a twist!”
And then, Dom grabbed my hand and started to pull me down the staircase with her.
“Ow! Dom! You’re hurting my arm,” I complained, but Dom didn’t listen, and if anything she began to pull me harder. I wasn’t able to yank my arm away until we had arrived at the bottom of the staircase.
“Finally!” Wyatt exclaimed once we made an appearance. “I was beginning to wonder if you two had made a run for it.”
“Ha, ha,” Dom responded dryly. “But for your information, we’re girls. We like to take our time.”
“Roxy was down here twenty minutes ago,” Tyson stated, gesturing to Roxy. Roxy looked taken aback at being pointed out, and instead buried her face in Wyatt’s shoulder. Cute.
“Well we’re not all as naturally beautiful as Roxy now are we,” I stated, making my way over to James’ side. I noticed that he looked proper fit in his graduation robes and cap, and his hair was mussed up just enough to make him look all manly and rugged.
Yup, I definitely had a seriously hot boyfriend.
“Aw, come on, you’re plenty beautiful yourself,” James stated, putting an arm around my shoulder and pulling me close. He gave me a quick peck on the forehead, before I swatted him away.
To say it simply, James and I were doing great. More than great. Ever since that night in the Astronomy Tower, James and I had just been different. Better. And since we had already gotten all of the heavy stuff over with before we had even decided to start a relationship (a relationship that had taken various dates and begging from James before I had finally agreed to make things official) only the fun and easy stuff was left.
And I’m not going to lie, it does feel kind of nice to be able to say James is my boyfriend. Especially considering the entire school didn’t think we’d last a day, and now we were closing in on our sixth month mark and couldn’t be happier.
“Oi! Stop being all gross in front of me. I’m sick of all the PDA I’m surrounded by,” Tyson exclaimed, breaking me from my thoughts. He gestured to Roxy and Wyatt as he said this, who were now whispering to each other and giggling, and then to Chaise and Dom, who were holding hands and staring at each other all mushily.
Not that they were back together. Of course that would only make too much sense for the two of them. Dom and Chaise had decided not to ever become official boyfriend and girlfriend again. But that didn’t stop them from acting like it. They still snogged and held hands; they just did it “without a label”. Something I still didn’t understand.
But, whatever. I gave up on ever understanding Dom and Chaise a long time ago. They were happy, so I let them be.
“Somebody seems bitter,” I joked, giving Tyson a nudge in the side. Tyson gave me a dirty look back.
“I am not bitter,” Tyson shot back. “In fact, I beg to say I’m the only sane one.”
“Oi! What’s that supposed to mean?” Dom asked, giving Tyson a look.
“Right well, I’m thinking we should head to the graduation ceremony,” Wyatt interrupted, before Tyson had a chance to respond to Dom and escalate the situation. “We’re already going to be late now thanks to these two.”
“When will you understand that we’re always late?” Dom asked, throwing her arms out as though Wyatt was the thickest person in the world. This didn’t, however, stop her from following as we all started to file out of the room.
“Hey, Corinne, wait a sec,” James said, grabbing my hand and pulling me back, as everyone else left the room. I turned around and looked at him, my eyebrow arched.
“What?” I asked.
“I just wanted to do this without everyone seeing,” James said, before leaning in and giving me a quick kiss. It was soft and gentle, a new feeling I had now come to associate with James. I began to smile against his lips before -all too soon- he pulled away.
“Well aren’t you Mr. Romance,” I said, pinching James’ cheek and then ruffling his hair. “But come on, we should go.”
And then I grabbed James’ hand and pulled him out into the hall to rejoin the rest of the group.
Yep, life was good.
“I’m sure we can all agree, that this year was very different from most,” Headmistress McGonagall stated, looking out over the crowd as she spoke. Almost half of the crowd was filled with the powder blue robes of the Beauxbatons students, who had all come here to watch the seventh years graduate. “But I’m also sure that we can agree that it was definitely a valuable learning experience for us all.”
The crowd made a hum of agreement at McGonagall’s statement. I turned my head to look at Wyatt, and we both fake yawned.
So far, the process of graduating was very long and very boring. The only thing keeping me going as we sat outside waiting for Headmistress McGonagall to finish up her speech, the hot sun blaring down on us all in our dark and heavy graduation robes, was Wyatt. Seeing as our last names both started with B’s, we had lucked out and gotten seated next to each other. And with us sitting next to each other, we had been playing the game of spotting someone in the audience, and then gossiping about them.
Yes, it was immature, but it was also very entertaining.
“So,” Wyatt began, gesturing to the newly red-headed Rose in the crowd, “do you think Rose is going to introduce her boyfriend to her dad yet?”
I looked at Rose and then to Scorpius, who was seated a couple of rows behind her, and shook my head. Rose was definitely not ready to introduce Scorpius to her dad, especially since they’d only gotten back together about a month ago. They had ended up snogging on New Years, despite Scorpius’ promises to Bailey that nothing would happen, and after a lot of back and forth they had finally decided to give things another go. And they both seemed much, much happier, if the fact that Rose had red hair again and wasn’t a huge bitch to everyone was anything to go by.
“Nope,” I whispered back to Wyatt, observing the way Rose and Scorpius had yet to even make eye contact with each other since her parents had arrived this morning to watch James graduate. “I think they’re still keeping their romance on the down low.”
Wyatt nodded, and we both turned back to Headmistress McGonagall, who didn’t seem any closer to finishing her speech than she had ten minutes ago.
“Hey, isn’t that Jean Paul?” Wyatt asked, gesturing the back left of the crowd where a figure stood, surrounded by some Beauxbatons alumni. I recognized his dark hair instantly and as soon as my eyes rested on him, his head seemed to snap in my direction and he waved. I turned to Wyatt quickly, putting a hand over my mouth to contain my laughter.
“Oh my god, I can’t believe he came,” I said to Wyatt, biting back a giggle.
“I can,” Wyatt responded, rolling his eyes. “Jean Paul was never one to get the hint.”
I stifled another laugh, and turned my head to the left to make eye contact with Dom, who was seated on the other side of the stage. Such were the drawbacks of alphabetical seating.
Dom however seemed to sense me looking and met my gaze instantly. I cocked my head to the side, gesturing to Jean Paul and then mouthing his name to her. Dom immediately followed my gaze, and then looked like she was holding back her own laughter, before reaching across Roxy and Freddy to poke Tyson (if only Wyatt and I were blessed with the W last names) and whispering to him. Tyson then looked in the direction of Jean Paul and snickered, before reaching forward to Chaise who was sitting in the row in front of them, and pointing Jean Paul out. James, who was sitting by Chaise, looked at them all with confused expressions.
They didn’t make any move to explain the situation to James though, which I was grateful for. Some things are better kept between friends.
James, Freddy, and Roxy, being the only ones left out of the loop, all looked at each other before shrugging. And if you couldn’t already tell by this exchange, yes James and Freddy were friends again. James and him had sorted everything out a couple of days after I’d told James to forgive him, and while their friendship had restarted tentative at first, they were now back to being as close as they were before. Freddy had been much nicer to me since then, and had even made sure to keep Madison and Elise in line so that they didn’t bother me. This wasn’t to say that Freddy and I were friends, but we did have an understanding and so we were civil each other for the sake of James. And I know James appreciated both of our efforts.
“And now,” Headmistress McGonagall said, her voice filled with authority, causing everyone to snap their attention to her, “we’d like to call up the Hogwarts and Beauxbatons graduating class to receive their diplomas.”
As she spoke everyone in the first row stood up and turned to the right (something Headmistress McGonagall had made us practice about a hundred times beforehand), getting ready to file across the stage to where Headmistress McGonagall had a stack of diplomas laid out on a table next to her. Madame Maxime was standing on the opposite side of the table where her own powder blue diplomas rested. They had decided to do the graduation such that the Beauxbatons students got two diplomas, one for our home school and one from Hogwarts saying we had successfully completed our transfer program.
“Anderson, Cooper,” McGonagall began, and the first person in line stepped forward to shake hands with both headmistresses and receive his diploma.
Three more people got their diplomas before it was my turn, and I have to say those three people seemed to receive their diplomas at record speed. Before I even had time to register what was going on, Professor McGonagall was calling my own name.
And then I was stepping forward, my gray Hogwarts robes rustling behind me as I made my way to the front of the stage where Headmistress McGonagall stood. I looked out over the crowd as I went and noticed the Beauxbatons section cheering for me. My gaze then shifted to the entire Weasley/Potter family sitting in the first row (being part of that family got them the perks of front row seats), who were also clapping loudly for me. Franny and Theo (who did not mind at all that James and I were dating and in fact got along with him very well) were seated in the second row, and both gave me huge thumbs up when I spotted them. And Bailey, who was sitting next to Rose in the front row, made eye contact with me as I walked and smiled, clapping along with them. I also spotted a familiar face seated by Bailey that made me unable to contain my smile any longer.
Her face was just as I remembered, which wasn’t hard because we looked a lot alike. As I studied her I noticed the blue eyes we shared, the same delicate facial features. The only differences were the laugh lines etched around her mouth, and the crows feet around the sides of her eyes, but even then it was more than clear that she was my mum. And she was smiling at me and clapping along with everyone else, looking… well she looked proud.
My mum had responded to my letter a couple of days after I sent it with an even longer one, saying how she missed me too and she was sorry for making me feel like I wasn’t worth holding onto. She had even invited me to spend the summer with her before I started my job at Witch Weekly in the fall, which I had agreed to almost instantly. I think spending the summer with her and Bailey was just what we needed to put our family back together.
And now she was here, watching me graduate. I had almost thought she wouldn’t come. But I had gotten her unreliability confused with my dad’s, who hadn’t been able to make it to my graduation (shocker). It had sucked when he had sent me a letter saying that he wouldn’t be going, but James had helped me through it. And then he’d convinced me to invite my mum instead, and she’d happily agreed. So really, I owed this moment to James.
Merlin, I loved him. I mean yeah, it had taken me a while to figure out that I did. But I honest to God really, truly loved him.
However, this thought was interrupted as I reached Headmistress McGonagall, who was standing with my diploma, holding it out to me as though it was the symbol of my future. And it was. But, as I took it out of her hands, I realized it was also a symbol of my past. Without coming back to Hogwarts and sticking it out to get this diploma, I wouldn’t be the person I am now. And I guess I had always known, deep down, that I needed to come back here in order to heal and grow and be able to look forward instead of always dwelling on the past.
“I’m proud of you, Corinne,” Headmistress McGonagall said to me after I took the diploma from her. And as I ran my hands over the rough parchment, I felt proud of me too.
I nodded at McGonagall, mouthing a thank you, before moving onto Madame Maxime who hugged me tight and gave me two air kisses before handing me my Beauxbatons diploma. And then, it was over, and I was back at my seat, watching as Wyatt made the same circuit I had previously made.
The rest of the graduation seemed to flutter by way too quickly for my liking. Soon I was watching as Chaise and James and Dom and Freddy and Roxy all received their diplomas, their faces mirroring the same elation as mine as they went.
The most noteworthy event was when Tyson had received his diploma, wearing nothing but his graduation robes. Yes, Tyson had thought it was a brilliant idea to essentially graduate naked (he claimed it was “too hot” to wear anything underneath). He had given Headmistress McGonagall a sloppy kiss on the cheek after she somewhat gingerly handed him his diploma and had picked Madame Maxime up in a hug as he got his Beauxbatons diploma.
And as the entire audience laughed at his antics, I smiled wistfully. It was good to know that Tyson would always be Tyson.
But-all too soon- everyone had received their diploma, and then we were all asked to rise as Headmistress McGonagall spoke again.
“And now we present to you the Hogwarts/Beauxbatons graduates of 2022.”
All at once, every student pulled the tassel on their graduation cap from right to left. It was like a weight was lifting off all of our shoulders, as we gave up the job of being a full time student and teenager. For the smallest moment, every student up on stage felt the relief of knowing we’d never have to take another test, or write another useless essay again.
And then, all hell broke loose. Fifty firecrackers flew up into the air from the back row of the stage (set up by the guys, no doubt), while every other student pointed their wands in the air and started casting charms of all types to shoot out explosions and glitter. A group of guys I didn’t know very well started casting water spells at each other, causing all of the girls to duck their heads and protect their hair. Luckily, they were on the opposite side of the stage, so I was clear of their range.
As I used my wand to throw confetti at people, Dom ran towards me (she was unluckily in the line of fire of the water throwers) in order to take cover. Once she ran over to me she hugged me tightly and started spinning us around in a circle.
“We did it, Corinne,” Dom said, looking up at me with wide eyes, and while anyone else would’ve suspected that her face was wet from the water, I knew better. Dom was crying, and it was as I looked at Dom’s face that I started crying too.
“Oh come on you babies, now’s not the time to start getting all emotional,” Tyson said, strolling up to the two of us and wrapping his own arms around Dom and I as we continued to cry and hug.
“Shut up, Tyson, just let them get it all out,” Wyatt said as he appeared from the mass of newly graduated spell-shooters, followed closely by Roxy as their hands remained tightly intertwined.
“Yeah, Ty,” Chaise said, as him and James made their own appearance. I was about to ask where Freddy was, but I noticed Madison and Elise had already made a beeline towards him, and he was too busy shooting spells at them. And while I still disliked Madison and Elise, I could tell that they were really close with Freddy. And sometimes you just had to respect those sorts of things. “You know how emotional women can get.”
This earned Chaise an elbow from me, as he shouted an “Ow!” in indignation.
“Finally!” Tyson exclaimed as Chaise rubbed his stomach. “Somebody else but has gotten elbowed by Corinne!”
“I did not deserve that,” Chaise stated, glaring at me as he rubbed his stomach. He then turned to James. “You need to control your women.”
“I would if I could,” James said, shrugging his shoulders as he wound both his arms around my neck and pecked the side of my face, “but we all know that Corinne is a feisty one.”
“But the whole point of you two dating was so you could calm her down,” Chaise complained. “Not so she could starting elbowing me too.”
“Oh shove it you big babies,” I said, sticking my tongue out at them. “I do what I want.”
“We know,” Wyatt said, rolling his eyes. “It’s your fatal flaw.”
“Wyatt, be nice,” Roxy said, giving him a stern look, which just made him roll his eyes again. Merlin bless Roxy and her overwhelming need to try and placate a situation.
“Yes, Wyatt, be nice,” Dom said, her eyes still glassy as she looked at us all. “This is going to be like, our last memory of all of us together and I don’t want it to be ruined with everyone fighting. So you all need to shut your mouths and huddle with me in a group hug.”
Everyone shut up and listened to Dom. I wrapped my arms around Dom first, bringing her into a tight hug, while Roxy then hugged the both of us. Then the guys huddled over us, securing the hug. And there was something about this hug that made everything feel bearable. Like even though we were graduating, things could still be the same.
“I feel like this hug has lasted over three seconds,” Tyson said, breaking into the content silence that now hung over us. “Doesn’t this mean it’s stopped being straight? Because I’m feeling a bit uncomfortable with that.”
“Oh shut up, Tyson,” Dom said, breaking us out of the hug as she reached over to hit Tyson on the back of the head. “You always have to ruin everything, don’t you?”
Tyson rubbed the back of his head, but he was smiling, “It is my specialty.”
“Everything involving you being an asshole is your specialty,” Dom shot back. Everyone laughed at this, rolling their eyes at yet another playful argument our group always encountered.
“Ouch, Dom, that really hurt,” Tyson said back, causing me to let out a sigh at his continuing ruffling of Dom’s feathers.
Now that the hug was broken, we were all standing together in tightly, huddled circle. James’ hand found mine, and I looked up at him, offering him a small smile. As I looked back around the group, I noticed a somber tone start crashing across all of us. Dom didn’t even seem to have the heart to argue back to Tyson, and was instead looking around at us all, as though memorizing this moment. I think it was sinking into all of us that we wouldn’t be able to have one like this for a long, long time.
We knew this was it. Our chapter of childhood was over, and everything was about to change. Dom was moving out to Paris to model for an up and coming wizarding magazine, Wyatt and Roxy were moving to Egypt with jobs as archaeologists, Chaise was going to Ireland to start training for the Irish National Quidditch team, while Tyson was going to start working in Romania with Theo to train dragons. As for James and I, well, I was going to be in Britain working as an assistant to the head of Witch Weekly magazine, and James was going to work for the Quidditch section of the Daily Prophet so we’d still be together. But… everyone else would be gone. Something friends as co-dependent as ourselves had never had to experience before.
And yeah, I was scared. We were all scared. Because, here we were, standing on the edge of the vast unknown, hanging by fraying threads. We now had to become adults; we had to grow up. And as I looked around at everyone’s faces, all our hands interwoven around each other, bittersweet smiles as we knew we would all have to go our separate ways and be our own separate people… as we knew we would have to make our own way in the world… somehow…
It was okay.
Because here I was, surrounded by people who loved me, by people who would always love me, and I knew that—no matter what—I would always love them too. They were my family, they were my rocks, and I would never, ever forget them.
“I love you all so, so much,” Dom said, breaking into the hanging silence, her eyes clouded with tears. Roxy began to tear up as well and she nestled her head on Wyatt’s shoulder, causing a lump to form in my own throat. And before I knew it, Dom and I were both bawling like babies, wrapping our arms around each other as everyone else in the group watched the breakdown of two best friends slash soul mates.
“I don’t know what I’m going to do without you, Coco,” Dom stated, and her voice was thick with tears. Her eyes were red, her mascara was smudged, and for once she didn’t look as put together and perfect as she usually did. Which could only mean I looked a hundred times worse. But that didn’t matter right now. What mattered was that Dom and I would no longer have each other for support. And that was hard. But I knew it would also eventually be okay.
“I know,” I said to Dom, and I was smiling as I cried. We both started to laugh at how ridiculous we must’ve looked, but we kept squeezing each other tight anyway. Neither of us wanted to let go. “I know.”
We had done it.
A/N: Wow so... I finished it. I honestly never thought I'd see the day when I finished writing this story. And while I'm really proud that I did so, I'm also really, really sad because it's over.
So I would first and foremost like to thank my best friend in the world Olivia. I miss her like crazy, she is my soul mate through and through, and without her, I wouldn't know what it was like to have a friendship like Dom and Corinne's. She is definitely the best person in the world, and even though we are a whole time zone apart, she will always be my bffl. No ifs, ands, or buts.
And of course, I'd like to thank all of you guys. The past year and a half (wow, I can't believe it's been so long) have been amazing because I've had all of your lovely support and encouragement to continue the story. I swear without you guys, I wouldn't have finished it. This story just started out as me trying to get over my past, but it surprisingly turned into much, much more. So I owe it all to you.
Seeing as this is the last chapter of the story, I would love to know your thoughts. So please review, even if you haven't before. I hope you all liked where it ended.
As for a sequel, lots of you have been asking me to write one, but I'm sorry to say that I won't be writing a sequel. I don't have enough time to write one, and even if I did, I know none of you would like the sequel. Trust me, I already know how the sequel would go and you'd probably
come at me with pitchforks for it.
But I do have another story that I'm still working on called Beauty Queen, so if you want to read anything else by me I suggest checking that one out. I really like where it's going, so if any of you happen to (for some reason) like my writing at all, there's always that.
Well, anyways, I've rambled enough in this author's note. Just basically I want to thank you all for sticking with me, shoddy updates and all. I love you guys for supporting me, and encouraging me to write. I'm the luckiest girl ever to have such amazing readers/reviewers.