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Chapter 12 : Graduation Day
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~One month later~
Cameron was not usually an early riser. On a typical day, he didn't get up until about eight-forty, which allowed him exactly enough time to shower, dress, and comb his hair befoer he reported to training at nine a.m. sharp. However, on the morning of February eleventh, Cam was up by six-thirty. As he stood in front of the mirror in the bathroom he shared with Sirius, he wondered if he should try to tame his messy hair...again. That only took him twenty minutes. Not exactly a good way to start the day off. But it got worse. He actually debated with himself for fifteen minutes over which pair of robes to wear. That in itself was sad, but considering the fact that all the robes were exactly alike, he felt like an idiot.
Normally, Cam couldn't care less about how he looked, but this just happened to be one of the most important days of his life. Not only was he graduating from Auror training and about to become a full fledged evil-dark-wizard captor, which he'd only dreamed of for, oh, give or take fifteen years, but it was also his twenty-first birthday and the day he finally put his plan to win Aisley over into action. He just hoped she didn't kill him first.
Cam reached up one last time to make sure his hair was still in place, but in a wave of disgust for himself, he scowled at his reflection and shook his head vigorously, causing each strand to go back to its' natural state: chaos.
~Meanwhile, Aisley was in a similar state of nervousness. Of course, it wasn't her birthday, and she didn't have an inkling of Cam's plan, but she was still a wreck. They were finally graduating. Who wouldn't be nervous? Then again, there was the added stress of having to deal with her makeup, hair, and a pai of robes that absolutely would NOT stop wrinkling. Oh, and the horrible problem of trying to find a gift for Cam that was special and said "I love you" without actually saying "I'm in love with you." With a sigh, Aisley applied a layer of lipstick and mused over her situation.
The week before, she'd finally gotten up the courage (some Gryffindor SHE was) to break up with James. Not all to her surprise, he'd taken it in stride. Then he'd told her 'don't give up on Cam just yet,' which had surprised her, especially considering he'd also told her that Cam certainly hadn't given up on her yet. What was that supposed to mean???? Baffled, Aisley had attributed it to some strange guy 'We've been friends forever and then we dated and it didn't work out so I'm going to be nice and say something nice to you' post break-up thing, but now, she found herself wondering if that was indeed the case. Ah, who was she kidding? Cam wasn't even mildly interested in her. That was a fact. She happened to glance up at the clock, and noticed with alarm that she only had ten minutes before she needed to be at headquarters. Aisley hurriedly applied the rest of ehr makeup, then Apparated out of her bedroom.
She arrived to a madhouse. There was no other way to describe the scene. Then entire Potter/Weasley/Lupin/Longbottom extended....well, family...was there, and their group alone accounted for at least seventy people. The entire Falcons team was there, as were Jamie, Byron, and all the women from Rebecca's party. Seventeen of Cam and Aisley's former fellow Gryffindors were there, several of them with spouses and small children. And these were just the people there to support them. The entire Auror department was there, as was Professor McGonagall, now Headmistress at Hogwarts, the current Minister of Magic, and....a talking portrait of Albus Dumbledore??? It kept winking in Aisley's direction, until finally she realized the portrait was winking at Harry, who everyone knew had always been one of Dumbledore's favorite students.
Though she was intimidated by the sheer number of people there, Aisley managed to find her seat with the other trainees without incident. She saw Cam a few seats down and managed a smile for him. He waved in reply.
A few minutes later, the ceremony started. For the first time, the family and friends of the trainees fell into a hush, as first one, then another Auror spoke. Some speeches were funny, some were insightful (including the speech given by the portrait, which was apparently an honored guest), and a lot were boring. The only thing they all had in common was that they were all extremely long. By the time her mother and Harry had risen out of their seats and made their way towards the stage, Aisley was ready to run far, far away. At least there was only about half an hour more that she had to sit through before the day was over. She heard first her name, then Cam's, called, and she had already risen mechanically from her chair before she realized something was up. There were supposed to be six names called before her own, and another three after her before Cam's was called. She looked his way, but he was already fast approaching the stage. With a shrug, Aisley followed him.
To her surprise, the moment she stepped on the stage, Cam shoved a plaque inscribed with "Valedictorian" at her, then stepped up to a podium she was sure hadn't been there a moment before.
"Well, everyone." Cam said so quietly that the audience strained to hear him. "Today's the day. In a matter of minutes, we'll finally be full-fledged Aurors. Now, I know that this speech isn't in the program, but bear with me for a moment. For the entire three and a half hours we've been sitting here, people have told us what a wonderful group we are. But I want to talk about one individual person. Now, we've all known each other for going on ten years. Some of us know each other pretty well, too. We are a great group of people, but as well as you all know me, there's one person who's known me a whole lot longer and quite a bit better." Aisley, who was by that point standing directly behind him, grimaced.
"She's also the top student in our class. So seeing as Miss Aisley and I have been 'bosom buddies' for nearly twenty-one years, and seeing as I know her better than anyone with the exception of Aisley herself, I got elected to be in this position. In fact, I know her so well that I can say she's positively blushing right now. Am I right?" The audience nodded. "Oh wait, now she's glowering at my back and wishing she could hit me." At that, the other trainees chuckled. "But seriously. Where do I start? In addition to being Head Girl, the top student in both this class and Hogwarts' graduating clas, and an all-around goody two shoes, Aisley is and was a master prank-puller, a brilliant comic, a magnificent musician, a loyal person, a great sister, and the best friend I've ever had. And I often was, and still am, extremely mean to her. I tease her about boys, call her names, and make her cry, but she puts up with me anyways. You don't meet many people in life that are beautiful and smart and funny and kind and loyal and nice and sweet and talented, all at the same time, but she's all that and more. So much more so, in fact, that I had the hugest crush on her for about for years when we were in school. But enough about that I have a question for my fellow soon-to-be graduates: has Aisley ever turned you down when you needed help with homework, or relationships, or life, or when you just needed a friend? I didn't think so. Aisley's the one person I respect more than my own mother, and that's saying something. No one deserves to be on top more than she dose, and not one of us has more potential to help save the world than she does. And now that I've thoroughly embarrassed her, I'll just say one last thing. I know I've under-appreciated you all these years, Ais, but I promise that that stops now. Thank you." Before Cam could step away, Aisley grabbed his arm. He saw a single tear running down her cheek.
"No. Thank you." she whispered as she rose on her toes, then she kissed him lightly on the mouth. It was the best birthday gift he'd ever gotten, but somehow, Cam managed to walk away without performing a little jig to his seat.
"Well." Aisley said as she stepped up to the podium, with an intensity that few had ever heard from her. "As my friend has already said just exactly why I deserve this...honor...I won't waste my time telling you why I don't. All I can say is thank you. Oh, and that I'm so glad that you guys are the people I finally ended up working with. Good luck, everyone." With that, Aisley stepped away and found her seat.
The rest of the ceremony flew by. In a matter of moments, both Aisley and Cam had received their certificates of graduation, and the two, along with the rest of their classmates, were surrounded by a swarm of over-excited relatives. Both received countless hugs, pats on the back, and in Cam's case, sloppy kisses on the cheek, before Harry cried "Okay, everyone! We're celebrating at the Manor. Now step back and let the kids breathe!" Within seconds, the crowd had dissipated, except for a select few.
"Aisley! We're so proud of you!" She turned to see her father and mother, arm in arm, grinning at her like a pair of fools.
"Was there ever any doubt?" she asked as she hugged first her father, then her mother. Remus opened his mouth to speack, but something in the background distracted him.
"Darling, your mother has something to tell you." He looked pointedly at his wife. "Now, if you'll excuse me for a minute, there's someone I need to see." Not even bothering to wait for a reply, Remus walked off, leaving his wife to explain just exactly how Aisley and Cam had come to be locked in a small, confined area together for two weeks.
Cam was so busy forcing himself not to watch Aisley that he didn't even hear her father approach.
"Cameron. Congratulations." Cam turned around and smiled at the older man.
"Thanks, Remus. I deserve them just for the fact that I've so far managed not to be murdered by your daughter." Cam joked.
"Speaking of Aisley. I have a confession to make on her mother's behalf." Remus bean, his tone bemused.
"Oh?" Cam asked. "What is it?"
"Well...she let it slip that it wasn't exactly by chance that you two ended up...thrown together...with that bloody 'partner' thing."
"Ah." Cam frowned. "I was beginning to suspect as much. But...you can tell Tonks that it worked. Well, sort of, anyways." Cam's gaze automatically sought Aisley out. Judging by the angry hand gestures and stomping feet, he guessed that Tonks was giving her the same bit of information. He couldn't help but laugh. As he turned around, he found Remus regarding him uncomfortably.
"Cameron...I've known you since you were born. If you were anyone else, I would have asked you this long before. I hope you know that I trust you, but Aisley's my little girl. I have to ask you...well, just what are your intentions towards my daughter?"
Cam looked the man he'd always considered as an uncle straight in the eye. "I love her." he stated.
"Yes, yes, I know." Remus said impatiently. "But what are you going to do about it?" Remus asked impatiently.
"With your permission, sir....I'm going to marry her."
"I thought as much. But does she know that?" Remus asked, amused.
"She will soon enough."
"Ah. Good then. A warning though...."
"What is it?" Cam asked, only slightly concerned.
"Be careful with her, or you'll have quite a lot to answer for." Remus responded seriously.
"You won't have to worry about that, Remus. I promise." As Cam finished, Aisley came stalking over. Her father took one look at her and slunk away, leaving Cam to deal with one hundred and ten pounds of furious female.
"Aaagh! I'm going to kill my mother!" she stated darkly. Cam pretended to be ignorant.
"Why? What did she do this time?" he asked.
"She's been bloody meddling in my life again, that's what happened!" Aisley burst out angrily.
"I see." Cam said dryly. "But, Ais, can you please refrain from killing anyone on my birthday? I'd consider it a favor."
"Oh, I suppose." she replied, laughing, seeing as that was his intent. "Speaking of birthdays...."
"Don't we have a celebration to get to?"
"I thought we were celebrating graduation..."
"We are. But it's also about your birthday." Aisley pointed out.
"Well then, that settles it." Cam grinned. "Shall we, milady?" He bowed deeply and extended his arm to Aisley with a flourish. To his pleasure, she colored and sank into a curtsy before accepting his arm.
"Why, certainly, m'lord." she replied. With that, the two strolled off, blissfully unaware of the whispers circulating throughout the few people who still remained.
~"Alright, everyone. They're here....finally." Sirius said dryly as Cam and Aisley appeared on the doorstep. They looked to be having a great time just standing there. Sirius couldn't control the desire to needle his brother, which was probably why, when he yanked the door open, he continued with"You two were snogging in a closet again, weren't you?"
To his great surprise, Cam said nothing; he only flushed a bit around the collar. Aisley, however, snapped.
"For the last time, we did NOT spend all of our time snogging!"
"Oh, so it was just some of the time?" Aisley opened her mouth to respond, but Cam gently put a hand on her shoulder.
"Ais, just let it be. He;s not worth it." he said quietly, but Sirius blushed anyways. To his infinite shock, Aisley, who would normally have treid to slap him, just looked up at his brother and smiled hesitantly before she stepped past them both.
"Cam..." Sirius started, but he was interrupted harshly.
"Don't. Why do you have to be like that?"
"I was just kidding, Cam!"
"Yeah?" Cam growled. "Well, stop then. The only thing you're accomplishing is embarrassing Aisley. Just stop teasing her about me. It's not fair to either one of us, and it's starting to piss me off." Sirius, instead of looking abashed, looked astounded.
"Becca wasn't lying! You really do love her!!" he said, eyes wide, before Cam clapped a hand over his mouth.
"Could you be ANY louder?" Cam hissed.
"Sure!" Sirius said helpfully. "I said, 'You really DO l-'." Cam cut him off with a Silencing Charm.
"Sirius! Not everyone needs to hear!" he said, then he glanced forward and saw Aisley. "Got it?" Sirius nodded, so Cam took his Silencing Charm off. "Good."
Aisley, who had luckily only heard the first part of Cam's...speech...smiled to herself. She wouldn't ever let him know it, but his defense of her left her bursting with pleasure.
"All right, guys! Time to eat!" GInny Potter said brightly. However it occurred, Aisley, Cam, Sirius, Rebecca, Jamie, and Byron all ended up sitting directly across from each other. It made for a very interesting meal, seeing as Sirius, whos was next to Jamie, either made innappropriate jokes or was sickeningly cutesie towards her, and Rebeccca, who was across from Byron, kept kicking him underneath the table, supposedly by 'accident.' All in all, the meal was very entertaining. Both Cam and Aisley received numerous graduation gifts, and Cam got a birthday girt from all the guests except one, but refused to open any until the night of the 'birthday/house/no one's killed each other...yet' party that was going on the next week.
By the time it was over and everyone had headed home, Cam was exhausted. It had been a very long day, so he Apparated straight to his bedroom as soon as he'd taken care of all the girts. He was just about to fall on his bed when he noticed a thick red book. Attached to it was a note....
I bet you were wondering if I'd even gotten you anything, huh? Well, I almost didn't. Not because of you, but because I couldn't think of anything that was good enough for you. But I finally figured out what to get, and I'm sure you'll recognize some of it. It took me a while to put together, and I really hope you like it.
With Love, Aisley....
It was a phot album. One that was filled with twenty years' worth of pictures of the two of them. It was like reliving his childhood, moment by precious moment. Even though he was dead tired, Cam couldn't resist flipping through the entire album, and he studied each picture carefully. There were several individual shots that one of them had taken of the other, including one he'd taken of Aisley when they were sixteen. She'd always been a brilliant pianist, but Cam realized that he'd only heard her play once or twice since he'd taken that picture. With a frown, he looked at it closer.
Neither one of them was a star photographer, but somehow, he'd managed to capture Aisley's diligence, her passion for her music, and her absolute concentration. It was also evident that whoever had taken the picture had been dead stupid with love. The one time he'd showed his copy to someone outside his family, it had been to an old woman his mother had worked with. She'd taken one look and asked who the girl was. When he'd told her it was his best friend, she replied "Only someone head over heels in love could have taken that picture, young man." He'd denied it vehemently at the time, but now, he had to agree.
For a moment, he watche dthe image play, and he could have sworn he heard the faint strains of Puccini. The the photo-Aisley turned her head slightly towards the camera, and the smile she gave stopped his heart, just like it had five years earliers when he'd taken it. He turned the page, unable to view that particular shot for another second.
The very last picture was one taken of the two of them just a few months before they left Hogwarts. Aisley was wearing a turtleneck sweater that she'd stolen from him, even though it was far too big for her. The cuffs, even when she rolled them up, extended past her fingers. Her arms were up and her knuckles were resting under her chin. For his part, Cam had one arm wrapped around Aisley's shoulder, and the other around her waist. Both of them were looking at each other, grinning from ear to ear and laughing like a pair of loons. Looking at that picture, Cam realized that it was one of the last times he had truly been happy; that was one fact that he looked forward to changing in the near future. Gently, he closed the album and set it on his nightstand. When he finally fell asleep, it was with a smile on his face....
A/N: Well, what did you think? You guys would not believe how LONG this took to type, so I really hope SOMEONE reviews. Otherwise, with all that work done for nothing, I might go even more crazy than I already am! So drop me a line or four, and tell me what you think!!!
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