Chapter 25 : Chapter Twenty-Five
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“Aspen, do you know where I put my dress?!” Dominique asked from the bathroom. She had been like this all day. It was June 9th, our last night before graduation and tonight was the ball.
We had taken our N.E.W.Ts the week after the quidditch final. They were insanely hard and we were supposed to get the results tomorrow morning. We needed them soon because of getting into healing schools and getting jobs and all that. I was going absolutely insane waiting for it.
The last three weeks had been sad, knowing the year was almost over. That our time at Hogwarts was nearly up. James, Louis, Danny,-who was now out of St. Mungo’s fully recovered-Bradley, Dom, Ally and I had all spent this time together. We skipped some of our classes to just hang out by the lake and sometimes go swimming. Professor Longbottom had lifted the rules for going outside on the grounds for sixth and seventh year, granted we followed the rules and didn’t go within twenty feet of the forest. It’s not really a big deal that we skipped class now. After exams, all we really did was listen to our teachers go over stuff we did back in bloody second year.
“Dom, it’s right where you left it, on your bed.” I told her.
She walked out to her bed, “Oh, thanks A.” I sighed and got up off of my bed. It was six o’clock. One hour left until the ball. I figured I should start getting ready. That’s all Dom had been doing for the past two hours, while I sat on my bed listening to her ramble. “I still can’t believe we lost to bloody Hufflepuff. Stupid fucking goody two shoes.” Dom’s other main topic of conversation today, how we came in second in the house cup. I didn’t care too much, not after we had one the quidditch cup.
I choose to ignore Dom and walked into the closet we all shared to find my dress. “I AM GOING TO KILL FRED BRYAN WEASLEY!” I heard the door slam after Ally’s shout. I removed my lavender dress off of the hanger and brought out to my bed. Ally had her arms crossed and was fuming.
“Why are you threatening to kill your boyfriend of seven months, Als?” I asked, unzipping my dress.
Ally’s jaw locked, “The bloody git didn’t ask me to the stupid freaking dance!” She cried. “I mean, James asked you even though you’re married and Bradley asked Dom even though they have been dating for almost a year. Fred didn’t even ask me to the dance, he just bloody assumed. The wanker.” She said. Merlin, she was pissed off. People rarely called Freddie, ‘Fred’. I had only heard him been called it three times in my life. The first, was when he was called up to be sorted. He had corrected Longbottom and said, ‘It’s Freddie. Not Fred.’ The second was when I was over at his house with James, and his mum got mad at him and said his full name. The third time was now.
I sat down beside her on her bed. “Ally, I know you’re mad, and I know he should have. But he is Freddie. You know that he has never had a girlfriend before, he has never taken a girl to a dance. To be honest, for a while I thought he was gay. James had two girlfriends when I was away. Bradley had four before Dom. We all know that Freddie isn’t exactly experienced when it comes to girls, which is rather sweet actually.”
“But he should have known! Or at least asked James or Bradley or Louis!” She complained.
“Yes, he should have. But he didn’t. And he is probably really confused on why you are mad at him. So why don’t you go up and tell him what you just told me.”
“Since when did you get all mature and start giving good advice?” Ally asked.
I shrugged and stuck out my tongue, “I am so not mature!” Ally grinned.
“I’ll see you later.” She waved and walked out of the room.
I walked back into the closet, Ally’s dress was the only one still hanging. “Hey Dom?” I called.
“Is Athena not getting ready with us?” I asked.
“No. She told me that she was going to get ready in Ravenclaw tower.”
“Does she have a date?”
“Which Paul?” I asked.
“Paul Folden, from Hufflepuff.”
I put on my dress and looked at myself in the mirror. It wasn’t the type of dress I usually wore, it wasn’t a cinderella type ball gown or anything. But I loved it. It was a halter lavender dress that flowed down to my ankles. Dom found it for me at our last Hogsmede weekend.
“You look smashing.” Dom snuck up on me. She was wearing her dress too. It was strapless and a light blue color, it went to her knees.
I smiled and put my arm around her shoulder. “Just a few hours left, Dom. And then we graduate.”
Dom frowned, “I don’t want it to be over, A. I don’t want to grow up.”
“I know. I don’t think any of us do, we all want to stay young. At least, I do. To bad we can’t stay young forever, huh?”
“Yeah, too bad. It’s just scary Aspen. We aren’t going to be living with each other anymore, you’ll be living with James and I’ll be living with Bradley. Louis and Freddie and Danny told me they are thinking about getting a flat together.”
“Roxy sent me a letter saying that she got into a healing school in California. Ally said Megan and her are getting a flat together in Cardiff.”
“What the bloody hell is in Cardiff?” Dom asked, she hated Wales. Why? I have no idea, it’s Dominique Weasley. She doesn’t exactly have reasons for hating things. For Merlin’s sake, she hated Tegan Chang because of the way she walked up to her sorting.
“Auror training for the Ministry of Magic. Honestly Dom, you should know this. Bradley is going to be going there every day. Besides, the rest of our jobs are going to be in London or close, besides Roxy of course. Louis is going to be a writer for the Daily Prophet, Danny and you are going into the ministry, Freddie is working for his dad, James is going to be a quidditch player and I’m hopefully going to London Academy of Healing.”
“Merlin, we sound all grown up.”
“I think we are.” We both fell quiet. I walked out to the bedroom and leaned against the doorframe. This room had been mine for seven years. Even when I was away for my cancer treatment, it had been mine. Six girls had lived in this room, no one else. There were nail polish stains on the floor and carvings in the wall and a hole from that time Dom threw a vase at the wall, don’t ask. It was a bad day.
Dents and stains and chips, they were a roadmap to the room. A roadmap to the last seven years. I looked over to a certain carving in the wall. Four names, Dominique Weasley, Alice Longbottom, Roxanne Weasley and Megan Wood. Underneath was written, best friends for ever, and underneath that as something that never failed to make me smile, we will never forget you, Aspen Powells.
Over the next hour, Ally, Dom and I got ready together. Freddie told Ally he was an idiot and asked her to the ball. Finally, we were all ready with two minutes until the doors opened.
“You ready for our last night?” Ally asked.
“No.” I bit my lip and looked down.
“Aw, Aspen. It’s okay. This night is going to be amazing.” Ally promised, hugging me.
We all walked down the winding staircase down to the common room. Almost everyone in Hogwarts, besides the seventh years, almost no one was here. The only people from other years that stayed were siblings and cousins. The entire Wotter clan was here, Ally’s brother Frankie was staying, as well as Danny’s sister Carly and so on and so forth. Tomorrow, all the parents and siblings that didn’t attend Hogwarts were coming.
Louis and his date, Rachel Pecker from Ravenclaw, Danny and his date, Liz Dodger from Hufflepuff, James, Bradley and Freddie were all waiting for us. The boys looked rather handsome in tuxes. At least, that’s what I thought until I saw what Freddie was wearing. Oh dear god, why did the other guys let him out in that outfit?
I looked at Dom and Ally, and they were clearly thinking the same thing.
Why did you give me such weird friends?
“Powder blue, Freddie? Really?” Ally asked. Yes, you heard her correctly. Freddie was wearing a powder blue suit that looked like it belonged in the 50s.
“What? It’s classic!” He cried.
“You keep telling yourself that Freddie.” James laughed, he turned his head and looked up at me. I heard him gasp. “Whoa.”
I smiled and walked down the stairs. James fumbled for a clear box that was on the table beside him. It was corsage, a lavender and white corsage He slipped it onto my wrist.
“James, this is perfect.”
“Really?” I nodded and he kissed me.
“Oi! You two! We’ve got a dance to get too! So stop making goggly eyes at each other and let’s go already!” Louis cried. I laughed and linked arms with James.
Ten minutes later, after weaving through the crowds, we reached the great hall. A, “Wow” escaped my mouth. It looked absolutely amazing, four huge banners hung on each wall. One for Gryffindor, one for Ravenclaw, one for Slytherin and one for Hufflepuff. Each one had the name of the house and the house symbol.
Outside, it was a perfect starry night, and I loved seeing it through the ceiling. The hall was lit by candles on the circular tables and around the dance floor. Fairies were flying around, lighting everything up.
There were eight tables. One for each seventh year dorm, two for each house. We were required to sit with our dorm mates. My dorm was lucky, we only had four people. The Gryffindor seventh years were the smallest dorms. The Ravenclaw girls’ dorm had eight people, as well as the Slytherin girls. Although, the Hufflepuff girls’ dorm was by far the biggest with twelve girls.
Ally and Dom sat on either side of me with Athena across from me. I looked around the great hall. My classmates surrounded me. I had known all but two of them (Athena and the other girl from salem, Laura) since I was eleven years old. We had all grown up together. Most of us had our first kiss here, for many muggleborns like me, this was the first time we truly believed in magic. The first time we saw that castle. Hogwarts was a huge part of all of our histories. It was embedded in us, from the moment we walked through the front door.
After dinner, a band called the Flaming Dragons started up. “May I have this dance?” I looked up to see James extending his hand too me.
“You may.” He led me to the dance floor. They were opening with a slow song, I put one of my hands on his shoulder and the other in his hand. We danced around, keeping in time to the beat. James twirled me around. He was truly a fantastic dancer.
Three songs later James turned around after being tapped on the shoulder, “Sorry, can I cut in?” I was starring at Joey Corner. James looked at him, I gave him a small nod to tell him it was okay.
“One dance, Corner, and don’t try any funny business with my wife. You got that?” Joey nodded. James walked away, towards Dominique, probably to interrupt her and Bradley.
Joey and I started dancing, “So, how have you been? I haven’t spoken to you in a long while.”
I smiled as he dipped me, “Good. Busy. My cancer came back for a few months, I’m fine now though. Then, I got married.” I held up my left hand.
“Wow. I heard the rumors and all, but I wasn’t sure if it was real. You know Hogwarts, the rumor mill is always running in this place.”
“Yes, well, I suppose for once the rumors are true.” We danced for a few moments, just listening to the music, “So, what are you planning on doing after graduation?”
“I’ve been accepted to Britain’s Magical Law School. What about you, Aspen?”
“Wow. That’s very impressive. I’ve applied to London Academy of Magical Healing. I won’t know for a few weeks if I got in, they have to go over my grades and see my NEWT results and my entrance essay of course. Merlin, I’m sorry if I’m rambling. It’s just, I’m kind of nervous about getting in. It’s one of the two places I applied too, and I really prefer this one over the other one.”
“I’m sure you’ll get accepted, you’re bloody brilliant Aspen.”
“I’m really not.” I blushed a bit.
Joey rolled his eyes, “You really are.”
“I blow up caldrons every other day in potions.” I pointed out.
He furrowed his eyebrows, “Oh, I thought you got over that.”
“Oh, right. You haven’t had potions with me since third year. Well, I’ve gotten better at it. Sometimes I do it just to piss Slughorn off.” Joey laughed. The music ended.
“Well, I guess I should go now because if looks could kill I would have been dead at the beginning of the song.” He motioned to James who was standing by the table.
“Thanks for the dance, Joey. I’ll see you around.”
He grinned, “Yeah see you. Oh, and by the way good luck tomorrow!” Damn it! I had almost forgotten about all of that. I had been chosen by my class mates as the person from Gryffindor to give a speech. Honestly, I was going to throw up during it. Public speaking, well, I’ve never been exactly great at it.
I walked over towards James, “Hey.” I noticed he was gripping his butter beer a little too tightly.
“What did he want?” He pointed across the floor where Joey and his date, Elise, were dancing.
“Oh, he asked for my hand in marriage and we are going to run away together after graduation. I’ll send you the divorce papers in a few weeks along with the invite to the ceremony.”
“Not funny.” He scowled. Scowling didn’t fit James. It looked out of place on his face.
“Really? I thought it was a bit of a laugh.”
“I don’t know why I put up with you.” James sighed.
I smiled, “Because you love me.”
He pulled me closer to him and rested his chin on top of my head. Man, I was short. “That I do, Aspen, that I do. It’s getting a bit hot in here, do you want to step out for a while.”
“Okay.” We linked arms and walked out of the great hall. We walked throughout the castle,
“So where exactly are we going? I thought you were taking me outside.”
“We are going outside. To one of the courtyards.” My heels clicked along the stone floors as we walked towards the transfiguration corridor, in the east part of the castle.
“Here we are.” James said as we walked onto the grass. He took off his jacket and laid it on the ground and motioned me to sit down. I lay down and felt the grass tickle my legs.
We sat in silence for a while, watching the stars. They twinkled against black curtain of night. I used to be afraid of the dark, when I was little. I didn’t like night, especially going outside during it. My dad made me go outside with him one night when I was nine years old.
The two of us sat in a tree in my backyard. I wanted to bury my face in his chest, but he told me not too. He pointed to the sky and told me that there was so much darkness at night. But, there were the stars. They were the brightness in the dark. They were the good in the bad. He told me as long as the stars were in the sky, I shouldn’t be afraid of the dark. Because no matter how dark it was, there was always light. Always.
“Do you ever wonder if there is more out there?” I asked James.
“What do you mean?”
I sighed, “I mean, far off places. I’ve heard the universe goes on forever, so don’t you want to know what’s out there? I think there are different people, and aliens and different places. I’ve wondered my whole life what’s out there, if we are ever going to be able to see it.”
“Even if we could go. I would never want to live anywhere else. Britain is my home.”
“I don’t have a home.”
“What are you talking about?”
I shrugged, “I suppose almost everywhere that could be home, has something that doesn’t feel like home. Places are not home. Home is people. You are my home. My parents are my home. My brothers are my home.”
James wrapped his arm around me and kissed my forehead. “I love you Aspen.”
“I love you too, James.”
“No. I mean it, I have loved you for years. You are the brightest light in my life. You always were, and you will always be. Our relationship is the best. I don’t regret a thing, you know that, right?”
“Not even the fights?”
“Not even the fights.”
“Well, I don’t regret anything either.”
We spoke for a while, about our days at Hogwarts. It was around two am when we finally got up and brushed the grass off of my dress. The ball was long over by now. We had talked for nearly four hours.
James walked me to the bottom of the staircase. I was standing a step above him and I was still shorter then him, by a lot. God freaking damn it. “I’ll see you in the morning. Do you know what time everyone is arriving tomorrow?”
“Mum sent me an owl saying around ten o’clock in the morning, and don’t worry about your parents and brothers. My parents are going to help them get here and all.”
“Thanks. I love you, goodnight.” I kissed him softly.
“Night, love you.” With that, I walked up the stairs. I could hear music from the end of the hall as I walked towards my dorm. I stopped at the door and ran my fingers over the wooden sign that had ‘Gryffindor Seventh Year Girls’ carved into it. Oh course it had to say ‘Gryffindor’, obviously some people forget that they are in Gryffindor tower. Sarcasm people, sarcasm. A lot has changed in the past year, but not that. Never that.
I opened the door, and it slowly opened with a small creek, as it had for the past seventh years. “Aspen!” Dom cried. She and Ally were sitting on the floor, listening to music on the wiz radio. “Where have you been? You disappeared half way through the dance!”
“James.” Was all I had to say for them to understand. “What are you guys doing?” I called from the closet as I changed into my pajamas.
“Having one last girls’ night in Hogwarts.” I smiled.
“Mind if I join you?”
“Pull up a pillow!” Ally cried. I grabbed my pillow off my bed and sat down next to them.
“So, how was the rest of the dance?” I asked, grabbing some popcorn from a bowl in the middle of our circle.
Dom shrugged, “It was nice, but average.” I looked at her and Ally. I rarely really looked at them. Usually it was after I saw them after the summer or when I came back after cancer. They were both extremely pretty. I was always so jealous of them when we were in second and third year. I knew I was pretty, but I was no veela. Ally wasn’t a veela, but she was still drop dead gorgeous.
Ally had wavy dark brown hair, almost raven colored. She was wearing it in a sloppy bun, but when she wore it down it reached the small of her back. Without even touching it, you could tell it was silky smooth. I tried using her shampoo and conditioner back in second year, but it was natural for her. She had large almond shaped eyes that were the color of dark honey. Her skin always reminded me of snow white’s she was so pale. Ally was a normal height, but much taller than me, at five feet and six inches.
While Ally’s and I’s hair was dark, Dom’s was a light golden brown. It was slightly curly, the kind between wavy and curly. It fell perfectly down her back, stopping just a little below the bottom of her breasts. Her eyes were cornflower blue. Most girls at Hogwarts were jealous of Dom’s skin, her complication was similar to that of a porcelain doll’s.
I looked at them and wondered where the times had gone. It seemed as if it was last week when we were all meeting for the first time on the Hogwarts express. James had introduced me to both of them. At first I thought Dom was a bit of a bitch and Ally was a bit of a smart sob. I guess we all come off to some people as things we’re not. I proabaly had scared a few people with my weirdness.
“I can’t believe it’s all over. Our last night at Hogwarts. We all knew it was coming.” Ally said, “But it’s here. I don’t want it to end you guys. You know, not a lot of people stay friends after they graduate this place. I don’t want that to happen to us.”
My hand found Ally’s. “Ally. I’m not gonna lie, we will drift apart. But everyone does, it’s natural for that to happen.” I took Dom’s hand as well. “Yet, we will never stop being friends. I don’t care if we are in different cities, or different regions, or different countries, or different continents. We will always be friends. You hear me? Always. We have had amazing times, and shitty times. But what matters is we had those times together. You guys have been by my side through everything these past few years. Even if we didn’t speak. Even if I abandoned you without a word. You were always there for me, so I will always be there for you. Okay?”
They wiped tears out of their eyes and hugged me. I sat on the floor with them, my eyes squeezed shut, trying to prevent the tears. We hugged each other tightly and listened to the music on the radio. It was an old song from the nineties, a theme song from a show my parents liked to watch. I listened as the person sung,
Someone to face the day with,
Make it through all the rest with,
Someone I’ll always laugh with,
Even at my worst I’m best with you
To be honest, there couldn’t be another song in the world that could have come on at that second that could make us feel as that song did in that moment.
The next moment I woke up before Athena, Ally or Dom. I walked over to the window and looked outside. Eight stories below me (I was one floor above the Gryffindor common room) they were setting up white chairs and a large stage for us the walk across. My eyes swelled with tears. It was all over. Just like that. Seven years, and it all led up to us walking across a stage, getting a piece of parchment and leaving this place.
I rubbed the morning out of my eyes and put on a pair of salmon colored shorts and a white tank top. My parents and brothers would be arriving within the hour. I looked around the room. Our trunks were all packed up, only our black graduation robes and a dress to wear under the robes rested on top of them.
“Oi! Up and at ‘em!” I cried, shaking the other girls’ beds to wake them up. They all moaned, and Dom threw a pillow at me. I quickly left the room after that joyful experience.
James was waiting for me on the couch in the common room. “So this is it?” He asked me.
“This is it. It feels as though everything is moving to fast for me to keep up.”
“Life is funny like that. Sometimes it’s fast and sometimes it’s slow. Either way, you have to speed up or slow down with it. Because it’s an exciting world out there, and you don’t want to miss a second of it.”
I sighed as he wrapped his arms around me and we looked out a window together. “When did we get so mature?”
“The day we were afraid, the day we grew up.” I was confused at this, but didn’t say anything. Silently, we walked to the front steps of the school together, and sat down. The first carriages were coming in, bringing our family and friends to our final day at Hogwarts.
Six carriages were unloaded until I finally saw who I was looking for. “Adam!” I screamed, running across the grass to get to him.
“Assie!” He cried before wrapping his arms tightly around me and swinging me around. Adam set me down and I hugged my other brothers.
“Wait, were is Kyle?” I asked, noticing my oldest brother was missing.
“Oh, he is in a carriage with Mum, Dad, Harry, Ginny and Leah.” I smiled, I hadn’t seen Leah in a long while. She was Kyle’s fiancee, set to marry in August.
“James!” Jason went and gave James a very awkward bro hug.
We all waited for a few moments before my parents’ carriage pulled up. Harry opened the door and helped everyone out. James went to say hello to his parents while I said hello to mine and my brother.
“Oh honey, you are so skinny! Have you been eating enough?” My mum greeted me with two kisses on the cheek.
“Yes, mum. I’m fine.” I told her.
“Sweetheart, are you feeling better?” My dad pointed to my shoulder.
“Great, thanks.” I hugged him tightly.
“Aspen!” I let go of my dad to see Leah. One of the many things I loved about Leah was that she was only a little taller then me. Half an inch, when we first met when Kyle and Leah had been dating for several months, it was one of the things we bonded over. Shortness, bringing people together.
I grinned, “Leah! How are you?”
“Fantastic, are you excited about your graduation?”
I nodded, “Come on in, I want to show you all around the castle!”
My parents and brothers followed me excitedly and I waved goodbye to James. We both needed our separate time with our families. “This place is amazing Aspen!” Dylan grinned as we walked into the entrance hall.
“Are you guys hungry? Or do you want to go explore?”
“Well,” My dad spoke, “Your mum and I are a bit peckish. But tell you what, why don’t you kids go and we will go and eat. Where is the cafeteria?”
“Oh, the great hall. It’s right through those double doors over there.”
My dad kissed my forehead, “Thanks sweetheart. Have fun and stay out of trouble boys, you hear?” My brothers simply grinned as my parents walked away.
“So, what do you guys want to see first?” I asked as we walked towards the grand staircase. “I could show you my dorm room, or the common room, or some of the classrooms, or a room that changes into whatever you want it to be-”
Dylan’s eyes bugged out, “Wait. Are you serious?” I nodded as we started walking up the stairs.
“Oh! Watch out for that step right there!” I warned them, pointing to the trick step.
After a few minutes, we reached the seventh floor and went to the room of requirement. I showed my brothers around various parts of the castle. After three hours, I finally sent them down to the grounds to take their seats while I got ready.
I put on my spaghetti strap floral dress and my white heels. Dom was putting on her makeup, Ally was adjusting her dress and Athena was brushing her hair. I pulled on my black graduation rob and slowly put on my cap so it didn’t mess up my hair. I put on the finishing touches on my makeup and fiddled with the tassel on my cap. It was red, for Gryffindor. Each student got their house color in their tassel.
There was a click at the window and I rushed over to it, an owl held four letters. My heart started beating fast and I took them. “Guys, it’s our NEWT results.”
“WHAT?!” Dom screeched and ripped hers out of my hand, I handed Ally’s and Athena’s to them.
“On three.” Ally confirmed.
“One, two, three.” We all tore our letters open. My heart was nearly beating out of my chest at this point, as I looked at my scores.
Defense Against the Dark Arts--O
“How did you do?” Dom asked me.
“I passed everything I needed to, to become a healer!” I squealed and wrapped my arms around her. “What about you?”
“Everything I need to become a translator!” I grinned and Ally told us that she got what she needed to become an auror.
“What about you Athena?” Ally asked.
“I’m going to be a writer, so I didn’t really need to pass much. But I did pretty well.”
“Good.” I smiled at her.
“Let’s go graduate girls.” Ally said and we linked arms and walked down the stairs, towards the grounds. I was so happy we didn’t have to graduate inside. We sat in order of our last name. Luckily, I got to sit next to James.
The graduates sat in front of the stage on the left, everyone else sat in front of the stage on the right. James and I held hands and looked up at the stage. All the teachers were seated there, looking out upon us.
Professor Longbottom stepped up to the podium, “Welcome students, professors, parents, siblings, family and friends. I would like to welcome everyone to the graduation of the Hogwarts class of 2023.” Everyone clapped, “We will start the ceremony with speeches from the professors and then a student from each house will make a speech, then we will have a student for each house speak, and then the students will get their diplomas. After that, everyone can have a few minutes to speak before everyone is to head for the train, the seventh years via boat. First up, Professor Slughorn.”
We all listened in boredom as the professors talked about how much we had matured as students and people and how we will go on to do great things. My hands were shaking as I watched my fellow students speak. Finally, after everyone else, it was my turn.
“Now, the student from Gryffindor, Aspen Powells.” My robes rustled in the cool breeze as I walked up the stairs to the podium. Shakily, I lowered the microphone, even with heels I was too short for it.
I looked out into the crowd. Blimey, there was a lot of people there. Our class was tiny, just a little over fifty people, but turns out we all had a lot of family. There was proabaly at least five hundred people there. Okay, Aspen, you should start talking now, otherwise everyone will think you’re mental.
“Seven years. We have been here, learning in this castle, for seven years. We walked through those large double doors. We were eleven years old, we were scared and afraid. But we weren’t alone. We had each other. That is how it has stayed these past seven years. I don’t care if we were in different houses, different teams, different classes. We always had each other. These past few years, I won’t say they were all about learning, or about having fun. They were both. Sometimes we had fun while learning, sometimes we learned while having fun. Hogwarts has changed all of us. One way or another. I am sure of that. We grew up here, together. We lived within those walls, we played on these lawns, we ate in that hall. You all feel like my family. Sure there are some of you that I have had more then one fight with, and there are those of you that I love. That’s what family is. Love and sometimes fighting. I know a lot of us will lose touch after this, but I won’t forget you. I can’t forget you. Thank you.” I walked back down the steps and took my seat about three quarters of the way up the graduates side.
“That was brilliant.” James whispered to me and kissed my cheek.
“Thanks.” I whispered back.
Professor Longbottom stepped up again, “Thank you Miss Powells for that great speech. Now, for diplomas.”
We all stood up and I listened as the names were called.
“Noah Jackson Abbott.” Oh dear merlin, I forgot they were saying our full names. A boy with a yellow tassel walked across the stage and took his diploma and shook hands with Longbottom and his head of house.
“Zachary Theodore Adair.” Yellow tassel.
“June Marisa Alessi.” Yellow tassel.
“Ashely Clara Bennett.” Blue tassel. I cringed as she almost fell down but luckily saved herself. Merlin, she was red faced when she received her diploma.
“Thomas Zane Boot.” Blue tassel.
“Tegan Alexandra Chang.” Blue tassel.
“Nicole Janet Classen.” Yellow tassel. I clapped when she walked across the stage, even though I preferred Danny as a quidditch commentator, she did a good job filling in for him.
“Reece Andrew Conaway.” The first green tassel crossed the stage.
“Joey Quinn Corner.” I clapped as Joey’s blue tassel swung across his face. He was always nice to me. I remembered him in the great hall during the beginning of the year. How he called me out on liking James. He told me he just observed and put things together, he told me others needed to observe too. Because we look, but we don’t see.
“Dylan Raymond Cran.” Green tassel, he was the one that caught the snitch in the final. I grinned remembering it. Suck on that, Slytherin.
“Megan Linda Cran.” Dylan’s green tassel twin sister walked across the stage.
“Lucy Adele Cusack.” Yellow tassel.
“Elizabeth Selena Dodger.” Yellow tassel. I remembered her being a good seeker. Not fantastic, but good.
“Amy Becca Donnelly.” Yellow tassel. Oh, wow, I thought she was a sixth year.
“Nick Aaron Edgecombe.” Green tassel. I hated him, I really did. The fucking idiot took me out of my final quidditch game ever. Illegally, I may add. Damn asshole.
“Sarah Faith Edgecombe.” Green tassel.
“Bradley Cooper Finnigan.” I clapped loudly as Bradley walked across the stage, I looked behind me to see Dom jumping up and down and yelling. He smiled and waved to us in the crowd, causing his red tassel to sway.
“Joseph Mark Flint.” Green tassel. I never liked Joseph Flint, but I did feel sorry for him right now. At the beginning of the year, he was proabaly thinking about his sister, Jamie, walking on right before him. Of course, he did hit me with that bludger, but it didn’t mean that I didn’t feel empathy for him.
“Paul Michael Folden.” Yellow tassel.
“Poppy May Frost.” Green tassel, along with an interesting name.
“Daniel Grant Hansen.” I cheered loudly with my friends as Danny walked across the stage, his red tassel beating the side of his face. I was so happy Danny made it to graduation. Just a few weeks ago I was standing over his bloody body just hoping he could live to graduation. And here he was, walking across the stage like nothing had happened.
“Jackie Summer Holden.” Green tassel, Jackie’s case was similar to Flint’s. Her twin brother died due to the fire monster thing. Even though she was one of Michelle’s cronies and gave me a milkshake shampoo, she had still lost her twin brother.
“Ruby Duffy Howell.” Green tassel. Okay, who names their kid that? I have nothing wrong with Ruby. But Duffy? Really? That’s not even a proper middle name! It’s a last name for crying out loud! My cousin’s middle name was their mum’s maiden name but some names just shouldn’t be used.
“Alice Hannah Longbottom.” It was weird hearing Ally’s full name used. But I clapped and whistled loudly as Ally bounced across the stage and shook hands with her dad and McGongall.
“Lauren Anne Lopez.” Ravenclaw’s seeker’s blue tassel swayed as her heels clicked as she walked across the stage. Lauren was the only person in our grade that came close to my height, although she was still a good inch and a half taller then me.
“Russell Troy Losada.” Yellow tassel. I actually don’t even recognize him. That’s odd.
“Lola Katherine Lyons.” Yellow tassel.
“Sara Kylie Marrero.” Blue tassel. Okay, this was starting to get boring. The nice thing was they should call my name soon.
“Violet Brittany Mateo.” Yellow tassel.
“Bailey Reagan McDonnell.” Blue tassel.
“Grant Eric Monmarte.” Green tassel. I haven’t really talked to him since first year to be honest.
“Finny Aurora Nall.” Yellow tassel, Finny was one of the biggest gossips I knew.
“Maximus Vince Nott.” Green tassel. He has a nice bum. Okay, now I’m just saying random stuff about everyone to keep me entertained.
“Spencer Carter O’Brian.” Yellow tassel. He always reminded me of a pedophile.
“Amelia Gabriella Parker.” Green tassel. Her middle name was the same as my mum’s.
“Michelle Alice Parkinson.” Green tassel, shockingly. I rolled my eyes as some Slytherins clapped. In my speech the whole fighting thing, totally about her.
“Rachel Demi Pecker.” Her blue tassel swatted her cheek as she walked. Wait, she was the one before me. Oh crap. I was next! Don’t trip Aspen! Whatever you do, don’t trip!
“Aspen September Isabella Anneliese Madeline Powells.” I cringed at my full name and walked up the steps on the right side of the stage and walked across the stage, took my diploma and shook Professor Longbottom’s hand. I was in the middle of shaking McGongall’s when I heard someone shout my name.
I looked into the crowd to see my brothers starting to lift up their shirts. Oh dear god. No. Merlin, please save me! They each had a letter painted on them in red paint, expect for Kyle, who had decided not to take part in this. A was painted on Cole, S was painted on Adam, P was painted on Jason, E was painted on Dylan, N was painted on Matt. Finally Brandon with an exclamation point painted on his chest. I smiled and stepped off the stage and started walking back to my seat.
“James Sirius Potter.” I screamed and stood on my chair (without my heels on) and shouted myself hoarse while James walked across the stage.
“Hope Gina Ravies.” Green tassel.
“Lynn Star Ritcher.” Green tassel.
“Elise Brenda Robson.” Blue tassel.
“Erin Elizabeth Rockridge.” Yellow tassel. Man, this year had a lot of Hufflepuffs.
“Lorcan Nargel Scamander.” Blue tassel.
“Lysander Narwhale Scamander.” Lorcan’s twin and his blue tassel crossed the stage. I couldn’t help but think about what the bloody hell their mother was thinking when giving them their middle names.
“Karen Joanne Sender.” Blue tassel as well.
“Laura Tessa Skagen.” Yellow tassel. She was the other student, besides Athena, that came from Salem in America.
“Athena Beth Singleton.” Speaking of Athena. I clapped lightly with everyone else. I didn’t know her that well, and sure I hated her when I first met her. But she was a nice person. We certainly could have gotten stuck with a worse roommate.
“Derek Marcus Sizer.” Yellow tassel.
“Alexander Charles Storey.” Blue tassel.
“Zander Jackson Vincent.” Even his blue tassel annoyed the hell out of me. Zander had been my first boyfriend, and a bad one at that. I hated him ever since I came back. I mean, he cheated on me, caused me memory loss and told everyone I was a slutty bitch.
“Dominique Gabrielle Weasley.” Dom looked fantastic in her light red dress that matched her tassel. She was practically born in heels, so she looked like she was gliding across the stage. I cheered and grinned so hard my face hurt.
“Fred Bryan Weasley.” My jaw dropped when I saw the tie that Freddie was wearing. I figured his outfit would be...entertaining. His black tie had been glitter glued with the word, YOLO. Oh my god. Freddie did the moonwalk across the stage, proabaly to the embarrassment of Ally and his mother and the delight of his father.
“Louis Alexander Weasley.” I heard a few people shouting in French while he walked across the stage. Dom told me that some of her cousins from France were coming. I clapped loudly as he received his diploma.
“Susan Tracy Weidler.” Susie’s yellow tassel swayed and I smiled. She had been the girl in the forest that gave me the calming potion.
“Finally, Jim Leroy Wickersham.” Yellow tassel. I clapped for him, although mostly because it was over. Aren’t I lovely?
After the cheering and clapping died down Professor Longbottom spoke, “Now. I don’t mean to dampen the mood or anything. But there is something I feel we must do. I would like to take a moment to honor the five seventh years that could not be here because they lost their lives this past year. Jamie Anne Flint, Catherine Gigi Goldstein, Carlos John Hark, Samuel Elliot Holden and finally Tuesday Laurel Soltero.” We all sat in silence for a what felt like half an hour, but was proabaly only a minute.
“Thank you.” Professor Longbottom said, “Now. Ladies and gentlemen, I would like to present to you, the Hogwarts class of 2023.” A loud roar of cheers went up and we all flung our caps up into the air. I turned to James and he kissed me softly. People shot confetti into the air and some guys from Hufflepuff started a war fight.
I smiled as James pulled away from me, “The end.” I said, “It’s the end of our days at Hogwarts. Just like that.” I snapped my fingers.
“It’s not the end, Aspen. Not really. Ends are just new beginnings.”
“So is this our new beginning?” He nodded and kissed me lightly. “I love you.”
“I love you too.”
“Aspen!” I turned around and saw my parents and brothers walking over to me, as well as Leah. “You were brilliant up there!” Matt picked me up swung me around. They all had a habit of doing that.
My dad smiled down on me, “I’m so proud of you.”
“We all are.” My mum gave me a tight squeeze.
“My little Aspen, all grown up and graduated.”
“Insane isn’t it?” I gave a small laugh.
“Well, you have a boat to board. So we will see you at home. Your bothers, mum and I are taking the fireplace home.” I laughed and kissed them all goodbye.
“I’ll see you at home. Love you all!” I cried as James and I walked down to the boathouse. We were all a hell of a lot bigger than we were in first year. So, instead of four to a boat, it was two to a boat now. I climbed into one with James.
All twenty-three boats pushed off at the same moment, by magic. James and I turned to face the castle in all it’s shining glory. We had never seen it from this far out in the lake since September 1st, when we were first years.
“Looks magical.” I commented.
“It is.” James looked over to me and we smiled at each other. We had graduated.
Everything seemed, so perfect. “How did you do on your NEWTs by the way?” He asked, I told him my scores.
“What about you?”
He pulled his sheet out of his pocket and handed it too me.
I read it:
Defense Against the Dark Arts--O
“That’s fantastic, James.”
“Thanks, your’s are brilliant too.”
I grinned. “I love you, I love this, and I can’t wait to move into that apartment we picked out next week.”
“Me too.” He stared at the castle.
“What do you mean?”
“I can tell something is wrong, what is it James?”
He sighed, “I’m just sad to be leaving, that’s all.”
I nodded. “Aren’t we all?”
We watched the castle in silence the rest of the way across the lake. When we finally docked, after about twenty minutes, James helped me out of the boat and we walked along the dock in Hogsmede. It was amazing, being back here. We hadn’t been on this dock since first year. I loved that Hogwarts did this for seventh years. It was a complete circle now.
James and I met up with Ally, Danny, Louis, Freddie, Dom and Bradley and started towards the train. Everyone was already heading towards our regular compartment, the second from the back. “Hey Aspen?” James asked as I was half on the train and half off.
“I just have to go say goodbye to someone real quick, the train doesn’t leave for ten minutes anyways. I’ll meet you guys at the regular compartment. Okay?”
He looked into my eyes and I looked into his hazel ones. His hand reached up and cupped my jaw line. “I love you, Aspen. Always. I don’t do anything without thinking of you first. You know that?”
I smiled, “Of course I do. I love you too. Now, go say goodbye. And stop acting so strangely. It doesn’t suit you.” He grinned and kissed me and ran off.
I made my way to the compartment and looked through the window. Dom was lying on Bradley’s stomach, Ally and Louis were playing exploding snap on the floor, Freddie was using mini fireworks that his father made and Danny was poking at his scars on his stomach. Things seemed so much different from the beginning of the way.
Everything was different. Dom had a miscarriage, Dom and Bradley had started a relationship, Danny had been put under surgery by me, Louis nearly killed Bradley, Ally and Freddie started dating, I got cancer, I was cured of cancer, students had died, I lost my memory, James and I started dating, James and I got married, so much had happened. It still felt as if it was gone in a blink of an eye.
I pushed the door open and sat down next to Ally on the floor. They all smiled at me but didn’t say anything. I think we all needed some silence then. We sat there for a few minutes before I heard a loud scream. My eyes snapped upwards to the window.
All of a sudden someone appeared at the door to our compartment. Tegan Chang, she was panting and clutching her stomach, “Aspen. You need to come with me. Something has happened.”
I jumped up and we began running, I knew my friends were following me. “What happened?” I asked as we jumped off the train and ran towards the forest. What was going on? Where was James?
“I don’t think I should tell you. There are people to tell people this kind of thing. I’m not one of them.” What type of thing? I didn’t bother to ask though. We ran through the forest and ended up in a clearing.
My heart stopped when I realized what was going on.
Around the edges of the clearing, a few pieces of wood were just a bit on fire.
In front of me, several people with wands. I didn’t see the body then, but I knew what had happened. The people parted and I slowly walked towards him. I crouched down and the tears flooded out of my eyes.
Even though it was slightly burnt, less burnt then the others but still burnt, I could make out his face. My James. The man I had loved for thirteen years of my life. He was gone. He was dead. Tears kept coming from my eyes and I wrapped my arms around his body.
“No. It can’t be. I was talking to him a few minutes ago. He can’t be dead.” I sobbed and buried my face into his chest.
“I’m sorry miss, but he is dead.” Someone told me.
I shook my head and squeezed my eyes shut. No this couldn’t be happening. He was my James. He was always going to be there for me. No matter what. He promised me. He loved me. NO, he loves me. Not loved.
I screamed and held his body close to mine. “Can’t you do something?! You can bring him back! You have to bring him back!” I yelled at the people around me.
“Aspen.” Tegan knelt down beside me, “I’m so sorry. But that monster, the one that killed all those other students, it killed him too. There was nothing I could have done. I am so sorry for your loss.”
“You’re talking like we can’t bring him back!”
“YES WE CAN!” I screamed. “WE HAVE TOO!”
Another person put their hand on my shoulder. “Aspen, we ran a wand scan for life. I’m sorry, but all your husband’s organs have shut down. He is dead.”
I looked down at James’s burnt body. I shook with sobs. I didn’t want this to be true. It couldn’t be true. We were married. We were going to move into a flat! Life was supposed to be perfect.
“James.” I choked out, “I love you.”
*Hides behind blanket while all my readers through spears at me* Okay, I know you all want to kill me right now. Honestly, this was such a hard chapter to write. I kept putting it off. I have been planing this since chapter five though. I was crying for most of it actually. We have one more chapter left, James’s funeral. Then, the sequel. I’m kind of an emotional reck after that chapter, so I have to go soon but I’m going to ask you all a few questions first.
Did you see his death coming?
If so, for how long?
How sad are you about his death? Because I am really, really sad.
I hope you all review, because I will love you for it! One chapter to go! See you all next time!
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