Perfect imange by the wonderful Valeriie @TDA
The morning of June eighth opened crisp and bright, with the perfectly blue sky not holding a single cloud; it looked like something out of a picture. A soft breeze blew over the castle grounds, ruffling the leaves on the trees and sending soft ripples across the Black Lake. Dozens of chairs were lined up in front of a huge stage which was set up alongside the lake, the stage held more chairs, one for each of professors. A solid black velvet curtain with the Hogwarts crest hung at the back of the stage, in the center of the platform stood the golden owl podium from the Great Hall shining in the late morning sun.
The graduation ceremony was set to begin at eleven sharp, with the students gathering in the Great Hall until all of the guest were seated. Family, friends, the people from Hogsmeade and many from the Ministry, along with the Minister of Magic himself Kingsley Shacklebolt, were milling around outside talking to one another waiting to take their place in the ever growing crowd. Others were already seated, wanting to have a good view as the next generation of young wizards who had already done so much for their world took the few short steps from simple students to achieving adults.
In the Great Hall Professor McGonagall was arguing with Lavender who was insisting on wearing a hideously pink ribbon wrapped around her graduation cap. "I warn you Miss Brown, either take that ridiculous think off your head at once or you will not be joining your fellow classmates outside."
"But Profess-" Lavender started to protest for the umpteenth time before McGonagall silenced her with a wave of the hand.
"I don't want to hear another word on the matter. I will not have a student from my house disgracing the name of Godric Gryffindor by looking like something out of Witch Weakly's ‘Pink is the new black edition.’" She gave the ribbon one last look of utter contempt before hurrying off to where Professor Trelawney stood sobbing uncontrollably while pulling both the Patil twins into a bone crushing hug. A bottle of cherry conspicuously sitting on the table beside her.
"Harry will you stop fidgeting with that!" Hermione snapped, causing him to stop what he was doing in his tracks. Harry was standing in the middle of the Hall with one hand on the top of his cap while the other was somewhere underneath it. Ever since he'd put it on he had been complaining about it falling off.
"I can't help it Hermione, the damned thing just won’t stay on." Harry replied before continuing his fruitless attempts with his cap.
"Oh give that to me," Hermione demanded ripping the cap off his head. "You are the only one who's having a problem with this. Even Ron has managed to put his on properly."
Looking around the Hall as Hermione fixed his cap Harry had to agree with her. Everyone else had their caps firmly placed upon their heads, even the girls who for the occasion had curled their hair into large ringlets which only added to the amount of volume that had to be concealed beneath the tight fitting graduation caps. Although they had the help of hair pins to keep their caps from fall off, guys didn't have such options.
"All right, come here." Hermione said pulling Harry out of his thoughts, and turning his attention back to his now mended cap that Hermione was not to gently pulling down on his head.
"Ouch! Be careful would you?" Harry exclaimed stepping back from her reach. But not before Hermione got one last hard tug in.
"Don't be such a baby." Hermione chided admiring her handy work from all angles.
"Hey, how did you do that?" He asked noticing that the cap hadn't moved even a fraction of a centimeter.
"The elastic was broken because of all your tugging." Hermione answered coming to a stop in front of him. "And you had it on backwards." she chuckled.
"Brilliant!" Harry responded sarcastically, with a slightly irritated looked which didn't quite hide the faint flush that had appeared on his cheeks.
"The Chosen One can defeat a sadistic bastard but not put his graduation cap on correctly. Something is terribly wrong with this picture." Draco had strolled over from where he'd been talking to a couple of Slytherins and sat down on top of the Gryffindor table, pulling one foot up to rest on the long bench below.
"Who knew a twitchy little ferret could put together a witty sentence from time to time?" Harry shot back in the same none hostile manner. "Somebody quick, call the Daily Prophet."
"Ooh good one love," Ginny praised walking down from the high table arm in arm with Luna, who had abandon the radish earrings but still wore her Nargle charm necklace.
"Thanks." Harry grinned greeting his girlfriend with a kiss once she got close enough.
"Please, do not encourage them." Hermione begged.
Smirking, Draco pulled Hermione towards him and planted a kiss on her cheek from behind as she leaned against his chest. "You love it and you know it."
"That's what you like to think." She muttered back.
"Insults are better than hexes Hermione. At least that's what I think." Luna interjected.
"For once I agree with Lovegood." Draco said nodding in her direction.
"Why thank you Draco." beamed Luna. "I agree with you sometimes too."
A comfortable silence followed with each person lost in his or her own thought. Today was to be a day filled with emotional highs and lows. Great and terrible things had happened within these walls. You don't just walk away from all that after almost ten years without some reservations about the past…and future.
"Hey! You guys ready?" called Ron who was standing by the Hall doors along with a pouting, but ribbon free, Lavender.
"Yes, we're coming!" Ginny called back as she, Harry, Luna, Hermione and Draco made their way over to Ron and out to join everyone else who was waiting in the foyer for McGonagall to lead them down to the lake.
"Hello Neville." said Luna coming to a stop behind him. Neville had spent the past five minutes looking through the crowd for his perky girlfriend.
Pulling Luna into a quick one armed hug Neville said "Hey, I've been looking all over for you. Where have you been?"
"In the Great Hall," she answered leaning into his embrace "With everyone else." Luna nodded over her shoulder where the group had stopped.
"Hey Neville." Harry said stopping alongside Luna. "I didn't see you in the Hall earlier. Were you there?"
"Yeah, but I left right after breakfast." said Neville turning to face them properly. "I needed to talk to Professor Sprout before we left today."
"About what?" Lavender asked, inserting herself into the conversation simple for the soul reason for making sure her presence was know.
"I'll tell you guys later on the train." Neville replied; clearly want to talk about whatever it was later.
"Speaking of where people have and haven't been," Hermione said with a curiously tone suddenly looking around. "Has anyone seen Valeria?"
"I haven't seen her since last night at dinner." Ginny offered when everyone else just shook their heads…everyone else but Draco.
"Or Blaise for that matter." Hermione said turning to her right where Draco was standing, slowly raising one eyebrow. She didn't know how, but throughout the entire year (and probably every year before that) between prefect duties, Quidditch practice and classes Draco and Blaise always seemed to know where the other one was. It puzzled the hell out of her because she could never keep track of people’s whereabouts the way Draco seemed to.
"I saw Blaise this morning," Draco reluctantly answered looking everywhere except at Hermione. "And Val."
"Where?" Hermione pressed narrowing her eyes while taking a step closer to him."
"In our dormitory." Draco answered finally looking at Hermione with a smirk. "They were just waking up when I left."
Draco's words caused a mixture of looks to follow from everyone in ear shot. From shocked and amused to indifference and expected. Sharing identical looks Hermione and Ginny both sighed before shaking their heads and laughing.
"Told you." Ginny gloated.
"I should have known" smiled Hermione
"Yes, you should have." came a voice from behind descending the grand stairs, along with a quiet clicking noise from a pair of deep crimson red heels. Next to the red heels was a pair of
polished black shoes which lead up to an almost annoyingly happy Blaise who was grinning from ear to ear.
"Morning all!" Blaise greeted everyone once he had reached the bottom step. He then continued over to stand next to Draco. Valeria followed a few feet behind placing her graduation cap on her head as she walked.
"Don't look like that love." Val smiled wrapping an arm around Hermione's shoulders."You've spent just as many nights down in the dungeons as I have."
"WHAT?!" Shouted Ron whipping his head in Draco directions.
"Lovely." Hermione mumbled rubbing her temple.
"Oh shut up." Ginny said smacking Ron upside the head. "This is why no one ever tells you anything."
"Gin that hurt!" he snapped rubbing the back of his head.
"Why are you allowed to wear those!?" Lavender huffed pointing to the crimson heels that she hadn't taken her eyes off of. She could care less where her fellow dorm mates had spent their evenings, and at the moment didn't seem to mind that her boyfriend was practically smoking at the ears because of who his ex-love interest was seeing in said evenings. All she cared about what the fact that McGonagall had nearly lost her mind about her hair ribbon and, most likely, wasn't going to say anything about a pair of shoes that were definitely not a part of their school uniform.
"Oh, these little old things?" Valeria innocently asked popping her foot out so everyone could have a better look. They were anything but old; a blind man could have told you that. The shoes were done in a beautiful deep red suede that ran from the tip of their rounded toes all the way up and down again to the tip of the three inch heel. Three inches is what she always chose to wore when wanting to gain height, just enough so she could kiss Blaise by simply tipping her head up a bit, but not tall enough so she towered above any of the girls. She was still the second shortest next to Luna.
"McGonagall said I could add anything I liked to our uniform today, as long as it kept with house colors." Val explained to the only girl she'd every meet that could make even the girly-est of girly girls run in fear of the color pink. It had always surprised Val that Lavender and Umbridge hadn't become friends while bonding over frills, kittens and PINK.
Pretty soon the color of Lavender's her face would be matching that of Ron's.
"I heard she didn't like your pink ribbon this morning." Valerie added, her lips turning into a full blown smile now.
There weren’t many girls in seventh year that would dish Lavender back everything she dished out to them. Hermione tried her best to ignore what Lavender said if she could, only snapping out her own snarky remark if, and when, Lavender crossed the line. Ginny gave up any pretence of being nice over Christmas vacation when 'Lav Lav' had spent it at the Burrow and called her garden gnome/angel tree topper a 'fat,fury little rodent that should be thrown out into the snow and hexed because it was defacing an otherwise beautiful tree.' Valeria had nothing personal against the very popular Miss Brown, other than the fact that she could be immensely annoying from sun up to sun down, always had to get her way and still even thought times had changed disliked every Slytherin she came into contact with. Val called her a spoiled bitch among other more, inventive four letter words.
Nobody saw Professor McGonagall make her way through the dense crowd of students and up to the front to tell Mr. Filch to open the doors. "Attention, attention!" The entire hall fell silent and all eyes turned to their Headmistress who was standing with her back to the open archway.
"In a few moments you will all take your seats beside the lake and the graduation ceremony will begin." McGonagall started. "As you all know we have a lot of guests with us this morning, not only your families and the rest of the school but many ministry officials along with countless others from the wizarding community.
A quite chuckle rippled though the students when she said this because, as amusing as it was hearing McGonagall say something like that, it was true. A few weeks back The Daily Prophet had a front page article telling about the graduation of The Chosen One and how so many heroes from the war were going to be attending. Needless to say that got McGonagall's blood flowing. She spent the next several days making sure that an event, which in her eyes should have been a bit more private, did not turn into a media circus. She was only allowing one reporter from the The Daily Prophet to enter the ground, and if they even dared to bother a single one of her students she had Peeves standing by with her old cane ready the run them out the main gates.
"I want to be explicitly clear on one thing," She continued, pursing her lips and eyeing each and every person in front of her." I do not want any of you thinking that just because you are leaving here today that you can, in anyway, cause a disturbance which will reflect poorly on this school. If I see one Weasleys Wizarding Wheezes product, you will not like my reaction."
Total silence followed. A few Slytherins looked absolutely terrified and quickly took their hands from the robe pockets, leaving any ideas they might have had far behind. Hermione and Harry both looked at each other, smiling and thinking the exact same thing. Thankful, that Ron had not inherited his brothers’ love of pranks, and wondering, what Fred and George might have done today had it been their graduation.
"I would just like to say one more thing," McGonagall said, this time with a look of great pride upon her face. "It has been my great honor and privilege to be your teacher, head of house," she paused looking at Harry, Ron, Hermione and Neville for a brief second. "And your Headmistress. I have come to know, and care about all of you. We have been through more together than any students and teacher should, but we came out of it stronger; United as one, a Family. And that is how I think of all of you." With one more soft smile she turned and started to descend down the steps, before the few tears that had formed in her eyes had a chance to fall.
"Quite the soft side old McGonagall's got huh?" Draco commentated as they walked down the sloping hill form the castle, talking hold of Hermione's hands and pulling her to closer to him.
"Indeed, not something you see too often." Hermione agreed leaning her head against Draco's shoulder, loving the feeling of him being so close.
Six months she thought to herself. Well almost, it would be six months, two weeks from today that Hermione Granger Gryffindor Princess and Draco Malfoy Slytherin Sex God became the most unlikely couple Hogwarts had seen since the days of Lily Evans and James Potter. Just thinking about it was enough to send a smile forming on Hermione's lips. Who'd have thought two enemies who'd loathed each other from day one when given the chance would have gladly hexed the other into oblivion without so much as a warning could ever become friends, let alone fall in love.
Staying a few days longer at school over Christmas break had been a decision Harry and Ron hadn't understood. They just didn't get why Hermione would want to stay there by herself when everyone else, as in everyone from the Lovegoods to the Grangers, were spending the holidays at the Burrow. That was just the reason she wanted to stay. Two days all to herself to enjoy wandering around Hogwarts, taking in the feeling those walls held only one time of the year. Admiring all twelve trees Hagrid had put up in the Great Hall, sitting by the fire in the common room with a good book, and the best had been, much to Hermione's surprise, spending a lovely afternoon in Hogsmead finishing up her Christmas shopping alongside a certain blonde. Never had Hermione been happier with a choice, she always wondered in the back of her mind if she hadn't stayed if she and Draco would have gotten together. However that was one question Hermione was content not knowing the answer to, in a way it wasn't really a question worth asking. When two people are as right for one another as her and Draco were fate has a way of bringing them together.
"And not something she'll be showing in my direction anytime soon." said Draco snapping Hermione out of her thoughts and bring her back to the present.
"What do you mean?" she asked, raiser her head so she could look at him properly.
"Oh come on!" Draco replied looking down at Hermione sounding shocked. "You know McGonagall has never been a fan of mine."
"And you've never given her any reason for that now have you?" Hermione asked sarcastically raising an eyebrow as she continued looking at him.
Draco smirked looking just the tiniest bit pleased at something he was remembering before saying. "I wasn't referring to that; I mean everything that's happened since sixth year. After everything I've done, I'm amazed she even let me back here."
"See, goes to show you how willing people are to give second chances." Hermione pointed out, now paying attention to where she was walking because the ground was getting rougher with little stones the closer to the lake they got.
"I'll be eternally grateful for second chances." Draco whispered leaning closer to her ear. She could feel his warm breath on her neck and it sent a shiver down her spine. "Especially the one I got from you." He added before placing two fingers under her chin, bring her lips up to meet his in a soft chaste kiss which affected him just as much as it did her.
"You two are going to end up in the bloody lake if you don't start watching where you're going." came Blaise's voice from behind causing Draco and Hermione to pull apart from each other and look up sooner than they'd had liked.
Doing so they saw that Blaise was actually right. Everyone in front of them had come to a stop instead of continuing on to their seats which stood waiting, and for good reason. There in front of Hogwarts seventh years could have possibly been every witch and wizard in Britain. Probably a slight exaggeration but that's what it looked like to everyone who stood taking in the sight before them. The first four rows or so of chairs were reserved for graduating students, the chairs behind those were where the ministry members sat, and behind them were the rest of the students mingled together with the families of everyone graduating. After all of that, filling in the space behind the chairs and around the sides reaching almost to the edge of the forbidden forest, were the people who had come to show their respect and appreciation to the The Chosen One along with everyone else that had helped to end the war.
"Hurry up now, take your seats." McGonagall called back which got everyone's feet moving again as she make her way up to the podium.
Hermione could see the Weasleys who alone took an entire row all to themselves. Mr. and Mrs. Granger were sitting next to Mrs. Weasley who already was crying and dabbing her eyes with a handkerchief, Mr Weasley patting her arm, George in his dragon hide jacket with Angelina next to him, Percy in his horn-rimmed glasses, Charlie sporting a few new burn marks, and at the end was Bill and Fleur who had cradled in her arms the small form of one month old Victoire. Next to them sat Andromeda and Teddy, his hair purple today looking all the more like Tonks. Teddy couldn't stop looking at the tiny tuft of silver/blonde hair that was peeking out of the powder pink blanket Fleur was holding, but upon spotting his godfather along with his 'aunts' and 'uncle' Teddy sat up straight and started to wave. Hermione couldn't help but smile as she waved back and watched Harry doing the same before taking her seat and glancing up at Draco who was already seated. Draco had met Teddy for the first time over Easter holidays quite unexpectedly when Andromeda had stopped by the Burrow a day early so Teddy could spend some extra time with his godfather. It had been a very awkward seeing as that was the first time Andromeda had every come face to face with her only nephew, she only knew what other people had told her about him and what she read in the Prophet, which wasn't very flattering. So it had come as a huge relief everyone (especially Hermione) when after a long walk through and around the orchard and lake behind the Burrow Andromeda assured Draco that she never held him responsible for anything his family, namely Lucius and Bellatrix, had done. He was just as much a victim in her eyes as anyone else who'd been unlucky enough to cross their paths, and was looking forward to getting to know him and Him to know Teddy. The walk lasted two hours and nobody really knew what was said after they came back. Hermione knew some of the highlights of the conversation, but other than that she was as clueless about what transpired as Errol the owl.
"Thank you all for coming today." Professor McGonagall began looking out at the crowd. "Today is the day these young people before us have been working towards for the past 8 years. Every single person has gone above any, and all, expectations I had when I first met them, shy little first years, some of whom were entering a world they had just learned existed. I have taught many students over the years, and all have made impressions on me. From the mischievous pranksters of several generations," McGonagall paused glancing over at the Weasleys, giving Molly a small smile. "To the brains who have out thought some of the most brilliant wizards to ever walk our halls."
Hermione’s cheeks had turned a deep shade of pink at McGonagall’s words but was beaming with pride all the same.
"Then" she continued. "There have been those who have risen above the demands and expectations of blood status and family name. Who learned, perhaps the hard way, that where someone comes from, what blood flows through their veins, and what a person believes in no matter how different it may be from your own doesn't make them any worse or you any better." McGonagall had been looking solely at Draco while she spoke, and he was holding her gazed with a slightly shocked expression on his face.
"Very few have had the courage to stand up for what is right, to change themselves for the better and in some cases put their lives on the line to make amends for the wrong they have done." She had gone from looking at Draco to looking out at every person before her. It was obvious to everyone that she was no long just talking about selective people here and there; Professor McGonagall was paying her respects to Severus Snape.
After his death Harry, Ron, Hermione, the entire Order and then some had felt awful about never realizing that Snape had truly been on their side all along. 'If only we had known'. That was what everyone had said once they found out the truth. But as Harry had pointed out several days after the Battle if they had known things wouldn't have turned out the same, and they needed to or they might have lost the war and many more lives. So the only thing left to do was make sure no one ever forgot the bravest man any of them had ever known, which is why after the school year started Harry insisted on McGonagall hanging a portrait of Snape in the Headmasters office.
"In doing so they have showed us not to judge people purely for what house they may come from, or past they may have, but to remember and judge them for their courage and bravery. Professor Dumbledore often said, there comes a time when you have to choose between what is right, and what is easy. Those times are the hardest in our lives, but they are also the most defining." After Professor McGonagall ended her speech there was total silence. She was letting her words sink in and they were doing just that, nobody moved. Not even little Teddy, who never sat still for more than a minute, dared to make a sound.
In the front row everyone was lost in memory, Harry was staring blankly in front of him, a look of sadness could be seen in his green eyes, both Ron and Ginny were thinking of one person: Fred. Blaise was holding Valeria's hand as she wiped away a few tears that she couldn't hold back any longer, as he himself took in the full impact of his Headmistress's words. In the middle was Hermione, who didn't bother to wipe away the tears that had started to flow long before McGonagall had stopped talking. She knew memories of the final Battle would come into everyone's minds today. How could they not when they were leaving behind what had been their home for a decade, where both the great and terrible had happened? The whole time Draco had sat still, holding Hermione's hand tightly in his own; he had been beyond surprised when McGonagall had spoken of him in such....pride? It what the only word he could think of, never before had she ever said anything like that about him. It was both a reminder of what he had been: a spoiled, selfish, arrogant bastard who'd almost committed murder because of how blinded he'd been by his father’s teachings and wanting to prove himself, and a realization that he was no longer any of those things. Yes, he could still be arrogant as hell sometimes, and real pain in the arse, but he'd become a changed person who had come to care about people that weren't himself. Hermione had seen the good in him and given him a second chance. His mother had noticed too and was immensely please to see that her son had finally grown a heart. And if he got his way, which he'd make sure he did, would see to it that one day people wouldn't hear the name Malfoy and assume the worst was coming.
"Now," Professor McGonagall said in a much happy tone, shaking everyone out of their thoughts and bringing them back to the present. "I'd like to ask our Head Boy and Head Girl to come up and say a few words before you all receive your diplomas."
A loud applause broke out as Neville and Ginny, stood and made their way up to the golden podium. Both smiled and nodded to the professors who were seated along the back of the stage before taking their place at the podium that McGonagall just vacated. Ginny and Neville stood side by side, once the applause had stopped Ginny took a deep breath before speaking.
"The best years of my life have been spent here at Hogwarts." Ginny began. "I think that's something everyone here can agree with," she paused as all the seventh years and years below nodded their heads in agreement. "My first year at Hogwarts consisted of my finding an old diary and having the 16 year old spirit of Tom Riddle possess me. For most, an experience like that would have sent most first years running back home in tears never wanting to see or hear about Hogwarts again." A soft chucked rippled through the crowd before Ginny continued. "But for me it was the complete opposite, I couldn't wait to come back and see what would happen to me next year. Needless to say every year after contained a fair amount of drama. Whether it was the dreaded double potions class, Quidditch matches, studying for long hours into the night so we could pass our O.W.Ls, meet the mysterious new Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher, or trying to find the right date for the Yule Ball. Our lives have been anything but dull, and that's what made these forming years the ones I'll treasure for the rest of my life." Ginny finished with a glowing smile, before she turned her head towards Neville and waited for him to begin the speech he'd been preparing for the past month.
"When I boarded the Hogwarts Express ten years ago, I was terrified," Neville started, standing a bit taller as he spoke. "I’d never been so far from home, and my magic......well let’s just say it wasn't as powerful as I would have hoped."
Ron muffled a snort from the front row and leaned over saying something to Harry which caused them both to have to smother their laughter with both hands, earning them both a reproaching look from Hermione.
"But with time that changed," Neville continued ignoring his friends’ playful teasing. "Thanks largely to a very secret, relatively unknown group called the DA. That was the first time during my years here that different houses came together for the same cause, uniting against a common enemy. And I sincerely hope that's something that remains strong in Hogwarts long after we've all left. I've made the best friends anyone could possibly have during these past eight years from all houses, even Slytherin. So that's what I'm most grateful for, the ties we've made together. Bonds that will not be broken."
We have all lived, learned, loved, laughed and lost together." Neville said his voice slight cracking with emotion. "So on behalf of everyone graduating today," he pause to take Ginny's hand who was beaming Neville and squeezed it lightly. "Ginny and I would like to thank Hogwarts. For giving us adventures,
memories, friends and family we'll carry with us for the rest of our lives."
A thunderous applause broke out as everyone stood, from students of all ages, to parents in the far back rows. Nobody could have said it better. After everything they'd been through together, the war, and helping to rebuild the wizarding world after Voldemort was defeated the most important thing was family and friends. They gave you something worth fighting for, worth living for.
It took a while but finally everyone sat down again, the only reason they all stopped clapping was because their hands have gotten red and sore from doing it so long. Professor McGonagall had come over and was standing next to Ginny and Neville, a rolled up parchment in each hand each tied with a scarlet ribbon.
"It is my great honor at this time to present you both with your diplomas, having completed all seven years of wizarding education with exceeds expectations." She handing them their scrolls as Neville and Ginny simultaneously reached up and moved the scarlet tassel from one side of their caps to the other. After them, each house came up together, first Gryffindor which was a mix of colors with old DA members and along with Blaise and Draco, then Ravenclaw, Hufflepuff and lastly Slytherin.
"I now present to you, Hogwarts graduating class of 2000!" Professor McGonagall announced, at the same time everyone grabbed their caps off their heads, throwing them high into the air.
- - - - - - - - - -
- - - - - - - - - -
"That was a lovely speech, Neville." Luna said softly, standing on her toes and giving him a kiss on the cheek before adding. "You too Ginny."
"Great job up there mate," Ron said slapping him on the back.
"Nicely put you two," Hermione praised as she and Draco walked over to stand next to Luna.
"Thanks guys," muttered Neville who was beginning to turn a deep of red at all the attention he was getting.
They were all standing near the edge of the forest in the shade from the trees as many other little groups of people were doing. All across the grounds from the lake and forest to up around the castle students and family members were milling about, catching up with each other and offering their congratulations. After the ceremony they had tried to find the Weasleys and Teddy but couldn't in the huge crowd so they decided to wait until they were found.
"What did you think of McGonagall’s speech Harry?" asked Hermione eagerly, looking over to where he was leaning against the trunk of a tree. The question had been burning a hole in her head for the past hour; the subject of the war was still sensitive to Harry. As it was to everyone who played a large part it in. She knew Harry would always feel guilty about everyone who'd died, just like she did, but hoped that in time he'd find a way to put in all behind him.
"Surprised,” he answered not looking up right away, but continued to watch a rather fat ladybug that was slowly walking through the blades of grass. Once the bug was out of sight he looked up at Hermione with a crooked grin. "Although I don't know why I was," Harry added chuckling "McGonagall has ever been one to keep her intentions to herself."
"True that." Blaise and Draco said at the same time, having always been Gryffindor's rival they'd learned from an early age not to test the patience of their strict transfiguration teaching who was immensely loyal to her house.
"Well, everything said and done, it was brilliant. I really couldn't be happier with today." Harry concluded.
"Ah Harry?" Valeria said who was looking over Blaise's shoulder at the tiny little purple dot that was making its way towards them with amazing speed for something for something so small. "I think you'd better brace for impact."
Her warning came just at the right moment because the next second everyone could hear Teddy's excited voice as he cried out "Harry, Harry, Harry!" and ran straight into his godfathers open arms. Harry scooped Teddy with speed only a Seeker could possess and started spinning him in circles causing Teddy to giggle and laugh loudly.
"There you are!" Arthur called out waving, as the entire Weasley clan and then some descended towards them.
"Do you think they'd notice if I ran?" whispered Draco, sidestepping behind Hermione and resting both hands on her shoulders.
"Be nice," Hermione scolded turning her head to the side so she could look at him properly. "I thought you were looking forward to seeing Teddy again?"
"I am," He answered truthfully, glancing over at his second cousin who was busy saying his hellos to 'Uncle Ron'. "It's just the rest of them can be a bit intimidating all grouped together."
"Oh hush you big baby." Hermione teased. She simply could not resist the smirk that was pulling at the corner of her mouth when she thought how ridiculous it was that Draco Malfoy, big bad Slytherin pureblood could be intimidated by that family she'd come to love as her own over the years. Intimidating.....she was amused at his odd chose of words for describing the Weasleys. They were anything but, as long as you never ended up on Mrs.Weasley's bad side.
It was just then, as all the hellos and congratulations were being said that Mrs.Weasley had found her two youngest children, grabbed them both around the neck, and was giving them a bone crushing hug.
"Oh I've never been so proud!" She exclaim with tears in her eyes, pulling Ron and Ginny if possible even closer to her.
"Mum!" Ginny gasped trying to loosen her mother’s hold. "Mum...you're crushing us."
"Can't....Breath." Ron choked out as he started to turn purple in the face.
"Molly dear, let them go." said Arthur walking over to his wife and pulling her arms off them so they wouldn't lose consciousness due to the lack of oxygen their brains were getting.
"Oh heavens, I'm sorry you two." Molly said instantly retracting her arms. Ron when tumbling into Harry gasping for air and Ginny quickly walked over to Bill while rubbing her neck. Both out of arms reach in case their mother decided to have another overly emotional reaction, somebody else could have the life squeezed out of them instead.
Teddy was now finished saying hello to everyone else and was standing in front of Hermione tugging on her hand. "Hi Aunt Hermione." Teddy said once she'd knelt down to his level and had scooped him up in a big hug. It had been far too long since she'd last seen him, kids grew up fast she knew, but she was still surprised how much bigger he was from a few months ago.
"Hello Teddy how are?" Hermione asked pulling back so she could get a better look at him.
"Great!" Teddy exclaimed with the cutest little grin. "And guess what?" He asked not pause long enough for her to ask what. "I've started changing my nose some. Just different shapes right now but I'm getting better at it."
"I'm very impressed." Hermione said with a somewhat sad smile. Tonks would have been so proud she thought.
"That's really great kid." added Draco coming down to Teddy's level also and ruffling his hair.
"Thanks Draco." Teddy beamed looking extraordinarily proud of himself. "I'm happy to see you again, you're fun." As he was talking Teddy slowly started turning his hair from purple to pale blonde. The change began at the roots and steadily worked its way up to the tips in less than 15 seconds.
"I just couldn't help myself," Molly was saying from above. "Ginny your speech was absolutely wonderful! As was yours Neville dear." she said giving him a kind smile. "Oh that reminds me, I saw your Grandmother talking to Professor Sprout. She said to say if we saw you that she was looking for you."
"Gran's talking to Professor Sprout?" Neville asked looking slightly horrified at the idea.
"Yes," Molly nodded seeming not to notice Neville's expression. "And your father is with them in case you were looking for him dear." Molly added looking down at Luna who had been looking up at the sky.
"I bet he's telling them all about the lilydragons he found down in the river behind our house." Luna said now gazing at the people before her, all of whom were looking at her with confused faces. As normally nobody knew what she was talking about.
"All right Luna I'll bite. What are lilydragons?" Blaise asked, his curiosity getting the best of him.
Luna's eyes light up with excitement before saying. "Lilydragons are water plants that live in rivers or streams and feed off the green fuzzy stuff at the bottom. They have big white flowers on them with a red center and sometime small birds or squirrels will try and nest or rest in them, which is unadvisable because the animals can get tangled in the long, leafy veins that grow out from under the flower. So father goes down to the river every morning to make sure nothing is caught up." She finished with a dreamy smile.
"I'll just never learn will I?" Blaise mumbled shaking his head.
"I think we should go find them." Neville said quickly taking Luna's hand and pulling her in the direction he'd last seen Professor Sprout. "We'll meet up you guys latter at the train okay?" He didn't wait to hear anyone’s response before turning and taking off at a slight jog.
"I should probably be doing the same." Blaise sighed running a hand through his messed up hair. "Finding my mother that is."
"As should I." Val agreed. "My parents are probably thinking I've gone Merlin knows where. We'll see you on the train too."
"See ya." Hermione said waving, as she watched Val and Blaise walk off in the opposite direction Neville and Luna just had. She and Draco were both standing up now and Teddy was several feet away pulling up the grass and throwing it into the air. "Speaking of finding people I think that's exactly what we all should start doing, the train will be leaving in," she pause to glance down at her watch. "About an hour."
"I suppose you're right love." agreed Draco brushing some grass off his robes.
"Alright, we'll all meet on the platform then in one hour." said Harry also glancing at the watch he'd received for his seventeenth birthday.
Hermione and Draco turned to leave but not before Hermione stopping to greet Bill and Fleur who'd been relatively quite during all the hellos, as to not wake up a still sleeping Victoire. Hermione very quietly sneaked a peek at little Victoire, who resting like a perfect angel. Her tiny lips were parted some and she had a few fingers gently wrapped around the edge of her blanket. Hermione had never before seen anything look so precious.
- - - - - - - - -
- - - - - - - - -
"So..." Draco said after they'd been walking around for five minutes. "Where should we start looking for two muggles and one witch who, is no doubt trying to keep to not draw attention to herself?"
"I haven't the foggiest." Hermione responded squinting in the bright sun as she continued to look for her parents. She knew they were interested in seeing Hogwarts, and figured they were probably wandering around somewhere taking in the sight of everything. But this was a big place and the last thing she wanted was them getting lost. "I think your mothers going to be easier to find Draco."
"And why is that?" he asked.
"Because I just did." she answered pointing straight in front of them.
Narcissa Malfoy was walking toward them, head held high ignoring the looks she was getting from passing people. The looks weren't all bad, most people had changed their opinion about her once they learned she help Harry Potter after Voldemort 'killed' him. It had become common knowledge that if it hadn't been for her, Harry would most likely be dead right now. However there were still those who hated the Malfoys, believing that one good deed was not enough to redeem them from a lifetime of wickedness.
Narcissa was wearing fitted, dark blue robes that flowed out around her legs as she walked. Her long blonde hair she had left down in soft waves which framed her face, her face that only had a touch of red lipstick and a hint of mascara. She looked like any other mother as she greeted her son with a hug, blue eyes sparkling with pride at the wonderful young man he had become.
"Congratulations Draco." Narcissa said smiling, as she pulled back from their embrace.
"Thank you mother." said Draco smiling back, glad that she was here with him on such an important day.
There had only ever been one person in his life he could count on, until now, and that was his mother. No matter what it had cost her she had been at her sons side throughout all his endeavors. Getting the Mark the summer of his sixth year, trying to complete the mission he'd been given, dealing the awfulness of their home having to play as headquarters for all the Death Eaters, and Voldemort. His mother had put her own life one the line for him several times, and probably many more times he didn't know about. Something, he thought begrudgingly, his father never did.
"And you too, Hermione." said Narcissa, now turning her attention to her son's girlfriend. Narcissa had welcomed Hermione with open arms, once Draco had worked up enough nerve to tell her about them, which had come as a surprise to both Hermione and Draco. Who'd been expecting some resistance on Narcissa's part. But no, she was just happy that Draco had finally found someone to love, it was long overdue.
"Thank you Mrs Malfoy." said Hermione with a slight nod of her head.
"Draco told me that you were graduating at the top of your class, you must be so proud." Narcissa continued.
Hermione blushed and shot Draco a look, to which he just shrugged, before responding. "Yes, I'll admit I am somewhat proud."
"Well you should be dear, from what Draco has told me you've worked very hard for it." Narcissa was smiling just as fondly at Hermione as she had been at Draco.
Not knowing what to say Hermione just smile more, before saying " Well I'll leave you two to catch up now, I really do need to find my parents."
"Already done, love." Draco said nodding his head to the left. "They're chatting with McGonagall and the Minister."
Hermione peered around Draco to see that yes indeed, her parents were standing not too fare away having an animated conversation with her now former professor, and Minister Shacklebolt.
"I best be going then. Wonderful to see you again Mrs Malfoy." Hermione said while exchanging a brief hug with Narcissa.
"You too dear, I hope to see you again soon." Narcissa said fondly while thinking how much she really did like this girl. Blood was a thing of the past, and anyone stupid enough not to think so was in for a very rude awakening.
"Defiantly." Said Hermione before placing a quick kiss on Draco cheek, and hurrying off to where her parents stood.
- - - - - - - - - -
- - - - - - - - - -
Only three people were left standing on the platform, everyone else was already on the Hogwarts Express waiting for its departure which would be any minuet now. There they stood, the Golden Trio staring up at the beautiful castle sitting peacefully in the afternoon sun. Their home. The home that they were about to leave for the last time.
"I can't believe this is it." sniffed Hermione letting a couple tears run down her cheeks.
"After everything, this is it." Harry said in a quiet voice.
"It's all going to be different now huh?" Ron asked, sticking his hands in the pockets of his trousers.
"Yes," Harry answered turning to look at Ron and Hermione. "Extremely different, seeing as we wont have people trying to kill us for a change. Over the years I've discovered different, to be quite good. I wouldn't know who I am otherwise."
Hermione laughed, smiling now as she said. "Yes indeed, being different from the rest of the world is the best thing I could have hoped for."
The warning whistle from the train sounded, causing them to jump and look over their shoulders at the billowing steam from the engine which was starting to engulf the entire scarlet train.
"Better get going guys," Ron said, looking back up at the castle. "Don't want the train leaving without us."
"You're right." Hermione said with a sigh. Turning to her right she saw that Harry was still routed on the spot. She knew how much harder this was for Harry compared to them. This had been his first real home, and now he was leaving it.
"Harry." She said softly, taking his hand. "You ready?"
"Yeah, I am." Harry answered with smile.
It was right then that she new he was going to be okay, they were all going to be okay. Time marches on, people change, but as long as they still had each other, everything was going to be alright.
Then, taking Ron's hand too, Hermione lead the three of them towards the Hogwarts Express. Climbing aboard, Harry closed the door behind them before leaning out the window. Ron and Hermione did the same, which was a rather tight squeeze, it had been much easier for the three of them to do this when they were second years. The train slowly started pulling back from the platform which was now totally hidden under a blanket of steam.
"So," said Harry with a crooked grin. "Now it's on to the next adventure.
"Just like always, mate." Ron said slapping him on the back.
Just before the train made it's turn to disappeared behind a small mountain they all leaned a tad bit farther out the window, craning their necks so they could see the towers of Hogwarts a few seconds longer.
"And I for one, can't wait to see what comes next." Hermione said, her voice carrying in the breeze as the tallest spire vanished from view.
And so the Hogwarts era come to a close. What did you all think? Love it? Hate it? Wanted good old Lucius to be there? Please leave a review, I love hearing from all of you. This is defiantly my favorite chapter of all I've written, ( including the fact it's so long :) so I want to know what your thoughts are.
Yes, I know so far it hasn't been completely focused on Hermione and Draco but I want to show where everybody was, and who they were with. Plus I thought the ending should just show Harry, Ron and Hermione because they are the Golden Trio after all, Hogwarts started with them together, I think it's only fitting it ended with them together. But not to fear, starting with the next chapter it is going to be Dramione all the way. ;)
Now I have a few updates as to where the story is heading. First, the status is changing to post-Hogwarts ( no brainier really seeing as they aren't in Hogwarts anymore) . Second, I'm going to start writing a series of companion one-shots for "LtGB" which will tell about things I've skipped over seeing as we started at the end of everyone's seventh year. So if there is anything, or one, you'd like to know more about, just let me know in a review and I'll see what I can do. The first two I'll be doing are Draco and Hermione, where you'll all get to see exactly how they got together over Christmas, and a really funny one about Blaise and Valeria. ;) Third, I have a Bellatrix/Narcissa one-shot partly written, no connection to this story, so keep your eyes out for that it will be up soon.
Check my authors page from time to time if you'd like to know where I am with my different stories. I'll keep it updated regularly. Also, if you'd like to see what Valeria look likes click back to the last chapter, I've got an image up now.
And last but not least ( yes I know, I keep going on and on. But I have a lot more to say this time around ) I'd like to thank everyone who's read this story and reviewed, it means the world to me. Then a HUGE thank you to everyone who has been so supportive of me since the very begin when I first started writing fan fiction a year ago. Especially Theia Luna, who has been my right hand girl ever step of the way. And Zach, who's been a God sent with helping me edit my stories. I couldn't have gotten this far without you. =)