Chapter 25 : Jobs and Graduates
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“Ginny. That’s the wedding march. This is graduation.” I looked at my best friend like she was nuts. Ahh… graduation. Good bad sad glad. No, I’m not turning into Dr. Seuss thank you very much. I just don’t know how I feel about it.
Embarking on the next adventure of my life. With Draco. Stepping into the great unknown that is the job market. With Draco. Yes. Everything I do will include Draco. My fiancée. Sigh. Dreamy, sexy, loving fiancée of mine… who just sprayed me in the face with pumpkin juice!
“I AM GOING TO KILL YOU DRACO LUCIUS MALFOY!” I screeched at the top of my lungs and ran after him out of the Great Hall where all the 7th & “8th” years were gathered for the graduation day breakfast.
“I didn’t mean to! Blaise made me choke… it just came out!” Draco was running for his life. Smart boy. He knew he’d be dead for ruining the masterpiece that was my face, compliments of Ginny and her makeup kit.
Turning the corner I ran into something solid and arms snaked around my waist holding me still. I tilted my head up to look at my capture.
With a smirk and a wink Draco lowered his head and tenderly brushed his lips over mine then proceeded to kiss away the droplets of juice from my face. He pulled me into his body and I of course went willingly, my anger already forgotten. There was no better place than Draco’s arms… well perhaps his bed.
“I’m sorry love. Really, I didn’t mean to.” He murmured into my hair and tightened his arms around me. My heart did a skip and a jump, yes ok I know I’m being sappy but hey, if you were engaged to Draco Malfoy you would be this way too.
I snuggled deeper into his chest and held him closer to me. “I know. It was just fun chasing you around.”
Draco tipped my head back and smiled that full megawatt smile at me before kissing me again. “Would you like to take a stroll around the castle before the ceremony?”
Every time damn it. Every time I thought about how this would be my last day at Hogwarts I started to cry and every time Draco would cup my cheeks and kiss away my tears.
“Shh… I know. I know…” He cooed to me and tucked me under his arm as we made our way through the halls we came to know so well.
How was I supposed to say goodbye to this place? It brought me to life. It brought me to Draco, although at the time I wish it hadn’t… but now? Would I change that? Never.
I hadn’t noticed that we had stopped moving, too many memories and thoughts played around in my head. I looked at our surroundings and realized we were at the foot of the Astronomy tower. My eyes went wide and I looked to Draco as he reached for the door.
“Draco?” I whispered and his hand stopped midair.
“I… I need to. Before it’s over.” He hadn’t turned to look at me but the agonizing tone of his voice made me step up next to him and guide his hand to the door knob. His hand was shaking as I covered it with mine.
“Together.” I whispered. Draco nodded and we turned the knob, pulling the door toward us. In silence we climbed the stairs, finally at the top I heard Draco let out a ragged breath. I watched as he walked to the open windows and look around at the ground. Only when he held out his hand for me did I join him. His arms encircled me and I leaned back against his chest, taking in the view.
“Isn’t it beautiful?” I asked. Draco’s lips planted a kiss on my head.
“I don’t know how I’m going to leave it.” I was such a loser. Crying over a castle. But it was my home…
“You know you don’t really have to leave it Hermione.” Draco turned me to face him.
Oh boy here we go again. I shook my head.
“No. Draco I can’t.” I tried to step out of his hold but his hands were firm on my shoulders.
“Look at me Hermione.”
I brought my eyes to his face. His gorgeous, sweet face.
“You should take the position. There is no one better for it than you.”
We had been having the same discussion/argument whatever you want to call it for the past month.
“No.” I stood my ground and stared defiantly up at him.
Draco raked a hand through his already messy blonde hair. “Why? I don’t understand.” His eyes were pleading with me.
Draco stepped back and crossed his arms. “No. No more excuses Hermione. You are a brilliant woman, why won’t you take this job offer? It’s an amazing opportunity. One that you shouldn’t throw away so easily. Now tell me why you won’t stay in the place you love so dearly and teach.”
I closed the distance and held onto him for dear life. “I was away from you once, I can’t do it again.”
Draco lifted my face to his so he could look into my eyes.
“Is that what’s got you worried?” He asked with wonderment in his voice.
I nodded and he smiled brightly. “Yeah, yeah I know I’m feeding your ego. You don’t have to look so happy Malfoy.” I grumbled and he pulled me back into his arms chuckling all the while.
“Well love… you don’t have to worry anymore. Guess who’s the new Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher.” Draco’s voice was laced with humor and excitement.
I pulled back quickly. No. No way!
“But… but Wilkins?”
Draco smiled and shook his head. “Fired. Just found out. Wish I had a chance to crush his pretty face before he left though.”
Oh Merlin… this means…
I jumped into Draco’s arms and he spun me around while planting kiss after kiss on my lips. Ok feeling sick. He finally stopped and I planted my feet back on solid ground. I held his face in my hands and looked at him with all the love I could conjure.
“We’ll be here?” I whispered and Draco nodded. “Together?” This time he smiled. I kissed him tenderly and held him close. “I love you Draco.”
“I love you too. We get to start our life together in the place where it all began.” He whispered into my hair. I sighed and gently pulled back. Draco’s eyes focused on my face, a small smile tugging at the corners of his perfect pink lips.
“Thank you.” I whispered to him. I couldn’t express how grateful I felt that he would do this for me. He knew how much it had been killing me to think about leaving Hogwarts.
Draco looked around the tower then out onto the grounds.
“You know… I thought it would be harder for me being back here. The tower, the castle. But it feels like home, like I belong here. Even though I hurt this place… the people here… everything… they’ve all welcomed me back.” His voice was one of awe.
“That’s the beauty of this place. No matter what, it will always make us feel safe, loved. You’re not the boy you once were Draco.” I kissed his lips when he brought them down to mine. We stayed in each others embrace for a few more minutes before heading back down the stairs and into the Great Hall where all of our classmates were sorting into lines alphabetically.
Draco pulled me into his arms, kissed me fiercely and gave me a bright smile before heading over to the other “M”s.
“Ready to do this Sis?” Blaise asked as he slung an arm over my shoulder and pulled me to the front of the Great Hall.
“Hey come on cheer up. We still have that slide show to look forward to.” My brother always found the good in everything.
He was right. Graduation was here, we were saying goodbye to the days of being students, but we had many things to look forward to in our futures. For one, the slide show.
I stood next to Draco at the podium set up on the stage we had erected on the grounds of Hogwarts. Looking out into the sea of faces I couldn’t help but smile. I spotted my parents, all three of them. The Weasley’s and Harry, and the Malfoy’s… everyone was here.
Draco’s speech was almost at an end, having gone over it with him a zillion times this past week I had a good idea how far along he was. Listening to him thank everyone for giving him a second chance brought tears to my eyes, as it did the zillion times before.
I wiped a tear from my cheek and smiled at Draco. He held out his hand for me and I took it, letting him lead me to the podium for my turn.
“I love you.” Draco whispered before taking a step back. I smiled at him before turning my attention to the audience. Ok deep breath Hermione.
“I didn’t prepare a speech for today. Surprising I know.” I received a few chuckles from the audience.
“I felt as though I should speak from my heart. About how I feel this last day as a student of Hogwarts. And well… I feel sad. Anxious… but also excited. I am one of the lucky ones. I get to come back here next year, to teach. But most of us don’t get to return to the halls of this magical place. This place that has taught me so much about myself, that protected me, fought for me. When the founders created this amazing school I don’t think they were aware of the trials and tribulations that would go on here. That they themselves would cause.”
Another deep breath.
“Hogwarts is a home to many. It will always be a place we can all come back to without fear of rejection.” I looked over my shoulder and received a smile from Draco. “Go into the future… don’t be afraid to follow your dreams, but know that if you ever feel lost, this place is here for you to come home to. We lost a lot here, but we have gained much in return. Take a piece of it with you wherever you go. It is resilient. Just like all of us. Congratulations class of 1999. Our time here may be over, but a great big world awaits us. Have fun and enjoy all it has to offer.”
I stepped back to join Draco as I received a round of applause. McGonagall smiled at the two of us as she stood at the podium.
Draco and I took our seats back in the crowd as the first wave of students received their diplomas. When Draco stepped on the stage I cheered with all my might, receiving a wink from my precious Slytherin.
“You ready Sis?” Blaise led me by the hand to the stage. For some reason he wanted to do this together since we missed out on so much. Each step we took onto the stage was followed by cheers from our friends and family.
I locked eyes with Draco and mouthed ‘I love you’ to him, earning me a bright smile.
As I was handed my diploma by the Headmistress she pulled me into a hug. The woman has emotions… who knew?
“Congratulations Miss Granger. I look forward to working with you and Mister Malfoy this upcoming year.”
“Thank you Professor. And I just wanted to say thank you for giving Draco a chance. This really means the world to him.” I felt myself choking up.
“Albus always knew there was good in him. He just needed to find his way. He will make an excellent teacher.” McGonagall smiled at me and let me go join Blaise on the way back to our seats. When everyone was seated she took center stage again.
“Now if you would all please file into the Great Hall the feast will begin; along with a surprise courtesy of Miss Zabini and the graduates.”
Draco and I found each other in the crowd and kissed before separating to find our parents. We agreed to meet over by the doors to the entrance to the school.
I ran into the open arms of Blaise who was waiting by our parents.
“Congratulations you two!” Mother said to us before we engulfed the three of them in a family hug.
“Yes, congratulations. This place is spectacular Mione. No wonder you always praised it when you came home for the summers.” Mum and Dad looked around the grounds in amazement as we made our way up the lawn to Draco and his parents by the front doors.
“Good to see you sweetheart. Congratulations.” Mum hugged Draco followed by a handshake from Dad and another hug from Mother.
More of the same went on between me, Blaise and the Malfoy’s. Well, I didn’t actually hug Mr. Malfoy this time, just a handshake.
“Jean it’s a pleasure to see you again.” Narcissa hugged my Mum tightly.
“You as well Narcissa. We have a lot to catch up on.” Mum smiled and hugged a shocked looking Lucius next. I had to clamp my hand over my mouth to keep from laughing, as did Draco and my brother.
Our parents were all friendly with one another. We had them meet a couple of weeks after New Years, after our engagement. Everything went better than expected. I was waiting for Dad to punch Lucius, or Lucius to curse my parents for being muggle. But it all went smoothly. No Avada’s, no black eyes. Just more happy family time.
“Hermione! Mione over here!”
My family and Draco’s joined the Weasley’s and Harry at one of the tables in the Great Hall before I had to announce the surprise. The Malfoy’s stayed at one end of my family and the Weasley’s at the other. Ugh. Some things really will never change. Oh well.
“I ask Miss Zabini to make her announcement and then the feast will begin.” Professor McGonagall sat back down at the teachers table as I walked to the front of the hall.
“This year I had the honor of being a sort of teacher to all the students. As you know last year our Muggle Studies professor was among the many that was taken from us. Now while I could never replace her, I tried to bring something different to the table with that class. One of the assignments was to record memories of the year here at Hogwarts. I have compiled the photographs taken by the 7th and “8th” years and created a slide show. I would like to present Hogwarts through our eyes.”
I signaled for Hagrid to start the show, the candles dimmed and non moving pictures began to fill the screen that had been placed by the doors. Walking back to my family I stopped by the Malfoy’s and sat on Draco’s lap to watch our hard work.
“You are one amazing woman Miss Zabini. I still can’t believe you’re mine.” Draco’s whispered words made me melt. I was his, and he was mine. Forever.
I kissed him lightly on the lips. “Thank you… you my dear fiancé are pretty incredible yourself. Now let’s eat and watch the show.” I gave him one last kiss before climbing off his lap and rejoining my family.
Laughs and tears flowed freely as we watched the memories flicker across the screen. Some of my favorites included Slughorn and a few classmates covered in green goo, action shots of the Quidditch teams… although most were just giant blurs since they flew by too quickly. Others like the one we took… the portraits of Dumbledore and Snape while Snape had a fit about getting his picture taken. We had McGonagall stand next to the portraits to commemorate the three headmasters of our years at Hogwarts.
I think my favorite was of the entire graduating class at the end of the show. I loved the last photo. Perhaps because it was the only one that was taken with a magical camera and so everyone moved. You could feel the love and excitement radiating off it.
I found Draco and myself in the photo. His arms were wrapped around me and we were both smiling and waving like fools at the camera. How things had changed in the past 8 years. I love magic.
A/N: No affiliation with Harry Potter.
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