Chapter 22 : Epilogue
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Oh, and BLK8008, look for a special reference to something I said in a previous chapter that you found amusing. ;) Enjoy, and I don't own HP!
“You ready, Charlie?” a voice asked. Charlie turned away from the mirror to look her best mate in the eyes. Rose looked so beautiful, in bright red dress robes that cut just above her knees.
“Scorpius won’t be able to keep his hands off you during the ceremony,” Charlie said, smirking, which made Rose blush.
“Oh, shut it,” she retorted, but was still smiling. “Like you can talk. After the ceremony you and James’ll be-”
“Shut it yourself,” Charlie shot back. She couldn’t contain her smile, or her blush, though. It had been two years since everything, and things had been pretty great. Today, though, she would see James for the first time in three months, and to be honest, Charlie was nervous.
“You look bloody beautiful, Charlie, so stop it,” Rose scolded Charlie, who had been smoothing her purple dress robes and touching her hair self-consciously. Rose’s face softened. “Can you believe we’re graduating?”
“Not really. The last year’s been so peaceful, but I don’t want to leave Hogwarts,” Charlie admitted, as Rose took out a bobby pin, which let a curl fall into Charlie’s face. The rest was pinned up, each curl perfectly placed. Like Charlie said; she was nervous, and wanted to look her best.
“There. Now let’s go; Al’s in the Entrance Hall with our robes, and the mysterious bird he’s been seeing the past few weeks,” Rose urged, pulling Charlie out of the room. This was enough initiative for Charlie; Al couldn’t shut it about the new girl, but refused to tell Rose and Charlie who she was. It had Charlie thinking that maybe it wasn’t a she.
So they hurried down to the Entrance Hall. The rest of their year was also milling about, but their parents and families were already seated. The ceremony would be by the lake, but of course they had to line up and organize in the cramped hall. Needless to say, it was very hard to spot Al and his mystery girl. Even worse, they kept on getting stopped to ‘remember that time?’ and such. Finally, they spotted Al, and Charlie bit back a sarcastic comment as she saw the girl standing next to him. How the hell did Al get her?
“You could have just told us, you twat!” Rose said, smacking Al on the arm. He was smiling, though, and Charlie smiled.
“Did you hit your head?” Charlie asked the girl, looking mock-concerned. Al’s eyes flashed with annoyance and he pushed Charlie. The girl just laughed, however.
“No,” she replied lightly, brushing her dark hair out of her eyes. She still had that blonde streak, and was wearing a black lace dress with combat boots. “Al here was going to pretend to introduce me, but of course you ruined his plan.” She was still smiling, this time with a tiny smirk.
“Rose,” Al started, before looking at Charlie with mock distaste, “Charlotte; I want you to meet someone. She’s the most perfect, beautiful person I know, and her name is Maddy,” Al said, placing a kiss on Maddy’s head. It surprised Charlie that Maddy let him; she was normally tough to the core. Yet again, Al did have that effect on people. He was such a teddy bear.
“You’re such a dork,” Maddy whispered into Al’s ear, but he just laughed.
“Wait until you see my brother. He’s like a lost puppy for Charlie,” he murmured back. Charlie, however, was oblivious; she was trying to fix her hair, looking almost panicked. “Charlie, it’ll be fine,” Al coaxed. “You don’t know how hard it was to get him in his seat, he wanted to see you so badly. Plus, you just saw him a few weeks ago. Nothing’s changed. I promise.”
Charlie just bit her lip. They had proven many times a hell of a lot could change in a few weeks.
“Great word choice, Al,” Rose said touchily, flipping her perfectly straight bangs out of her eyes. Maddy nodded her agreement, but Charlie was just looking around nervously. “Seriously, Charlie? Do I need to give you a calming draught or something of the sort? Honestly, you weren’t half this nervous on your first date. And then I threatened to stun you.”
“Where’s Scorpius?” Charlie replied, trying to look calm, while changing the subject.
“He’s coming; I see him. And stop deflecting,” Al told her. “Like Rose said, stop worrying. I talked to the bloke, and besides, it’s our ruddy graduation. It’s only going to happen once, so enjoy it, Char.” Charlie nodded, smiling.
“Thanks, you lot. Now, I want to hear how this bloke managed to get you, Maddy,” Charlie said, changing the topic. She listened as Maddy told her, and though it really was quite sweet, she still couldn’t stop thinking of James. Scorpius and Rose weren’t helping, with their antics. Eventually, though, Charlie would be able to stop worrying about James, and start worrying about graduation itself.
“Well, we certainly had a unique group of students this year,” McGonagall started, and Charlie rolled her eyes. She hated ceremonies like this. So Charlie tuned her out, until she said something surprising. “We have a few awards to give out now.” There were awards? Ah well, Rose would sweep them all. McGonagall went through the normal academic ones; Charms, Transfig, those types of things. Rose practically got them all, as predicted, and was blushing from ear to ear by the end of them.
“But we also have one last award; the Ellie Finnegan Character and Integrity Award*. This award goes to a student who does the right thing, no matter what. They’re strong, and don’t care if their actions are not considered ‘popular’. They’re bright, and speak their opinion. And, this year, the award goes to Charlotte Grace,” McGonagall announced, and Charlie was stunned. She walked up and took it, and vaguely thought she heard cheering coming from where the Potters were sitting.
The rest of the ceremony passed in blur, and Rose started crying softly. She, Maddy, and Charlie bought a flat together, but Charlie was off to Healing Training, Rose to The Department of Mysteries, and Maddy to the Auror office (she was actually their age, but took advanced classes). They would all be busy; Al was working with Scorpius in his bookshop until a position at Hogwarts opened up, and James was a professional Quidditch player, had been for a year ... first string on Puddlemere.
“And now, the valedictorian, Rose Weasley,” McGee announced. Rose walked confidently up to the stage, but instead of watching her, Charlie looked at Scorpius. He was grinning from ear to ear with pride, and that made Charlie smile. Normally, Charlie would be nervous for her friend, but she had heard the speech before; it was brilliant.
“I know this should be about ‘moving forward’, and ‘living our dreams’, but I can’t stop thinking about what we’re leaving behind. We’ve lived at Hogwarts for seven years; it’s our home. There’ll be no more late night revisions in the common room with all the sweets we have, there will be no more exploding cauldrons, or House Quidditch matches. We have so many memories from this place; it makes it hard to leave. But we must; some of us will be Healers, or Herbologists, even a few professional Quidditch players. We do have a bright future ahead, but we shouldn’t forget what made us who we are. We can’t forget Hogwarts,” Rose started, smiling at Charlie. She continued for a few minutes, adding in the usual ‘live your dreams’ that was typical for graduation. Then, she walked all the way back to the ‘w’s’, before they were each given their diploma. And then ... it was over. They had done it; they completed Hogwarts.
Charlie walked to the edge of the stage, trying to find one person in the mass of people. Suddenly, he was right there. Without thinking, Charlie jumped off the tiny platform and into his arms. Their lips met as he twirled her around.
“James,” Charlie whispered, as the kiss ended. He went in for another, but Charlie didn’t oblige. “I can’t just snog you the entire time. Your family’s here,” she murmured.
“Killjoy,” he muttered back, but he was smiling. “Congratulations, by the way, Ms. Healer-in-Training. Maybe I’ll have to injure myself during practice just to see you.”
“I will tell your mother, James Sirius Potter,” Charlie threatened, as he pulled her close.
“You wouldn’t,” James said, horrified. If there was one person who could tame him, it was Ginny Weasley. It didn’t matter if he was nineteen.
“I would. And don’t you want to go congratulate your brother? It’s not like he’s the person you came here for, or anything,” Charlie said sarcastically. James replied by kissing her again.
“Who said I came here for him?” he murmured. Charlie laughed, until she realized he wasn’t going to move.
“James, love, he has a girlfriend,” she whispered, and James immediately perked up.
“How? Where?” he asked immediately, looking around like a dog. Charlie laughed easily.
“Come on, they’re by your family,” she said lightly, and he grabbed her hand.
“Let’s go!” James exclaimed, before pulling her through the crowd, running. When they finally found the Potters, Charlie was trying to keep her balance in the damn shoes Rose had made her wear.
“James!” Ginny exclaimed in horror, looking at Charlie. “Have you no tact? Or manners?”
“Sorry, Mum,” James said, not even looking sorry. “Al, congrats and all, but who’s your girlfriend? Is she mentally damaged? Did she-”
“No,” Al said icily, before smiling. “She’s right here. Mum, Dad, I’ve think you’ve met Maddy?” Al then proceeded to introduce her, even though Dad knew her quite well, and James tried to pick his jaw off the ground.
“You didn’t tell me?” he asked Maddy, looking hurt. They owled each other quite frequently. Maddy just shook her head, smiling.
“We wanted it to be a surprise,” she said quietly. Al smiled, putting his arm around her waist.
“Ah, well. Al, mate, why did you introduce her? We all know her,” he said cheekily to his younger brother. Al’s smile was forced.
“It was the polite thing to do, James. Some of us actually have manners, you know,” Al replied, and James looked shocked.
“Damn, now I have to introduce Charlie. Why do we need manners?” James replied, looking regretful. He ignored his mother’s swat for the swear, and turned to his father, holding Charlie close.
“Everyone, this is,” James took a deep breath, and Charlie groaned, seeing what was coming, “-Charlotte Elizabeth Aria Scout Grace. She’s beautiful, smart, and simply perfect.” Then James kissed her lightly on the lips, while Charlie blushed. She was a little peeved; she didn’t want to do this in front of his parents.
So as he pulled away, she whispered: “This doesn’t mean I still don’t want to castrate you.” He laughed, before murmuring:
“I know, love.”
So Charlie and James sat through the polite chatter and good-natured teasing. But they kept looking at each other, and when they were finally alone James asked her a simple question.
“Is it still perfect?” he asked, and Charlie looked into his eyes.
“It’s more than that,” she replied, before their lips met once again. And there, sitting by the lake, curled up against James, that statement was true. “I love you,” Charlie told him, and James looked shocked for a second.
“I, I love you, too, Charlie,” he replied. And so they just sat there, catching each other up on the past few weeks. They talked about their future, and Charlie told him about the flat.
As they walked back up to the castle that night, Charlie couldn’t help but thinking a chapter of her life was over. She was leaving the fights and the tears she’d had with James behind where they belonged, at Hogwarts, and the next chapter would be simple; her hand in James, just as it was now.
Because that was all Charlie needed. And it was still perfect.
*: Dedicated to a girl named Emily. She was a year older than me, and died last summer. There is a very similar award in her honor at our school, and she loved Harry Potter. Miss you, Emily.
First, I want to thank anyone and everyone who has read or reviewed this story. It means so much to me, and I'm so glad you took the time to read it. It's really helped me out on some bad days. As I've said before, I'm only thirteen, so all crit is appreciated so I can become a better writer.
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