Chapter 24 : A Legacy to Leave Behind
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“Ah, I’ve missed you so much!” Hermione said, wrapping me into a hug. I missed her a lot and had so much to tell her…but how – or rather, how much – was the question. I had discussed with Fred about keeping our engagement on the down-low for now…we hadn’t even told his family about it. But that was proving to be relatively difficult now because…well, I was excited about it. Besides, I wanted to call up my dad and have him meet Fred. I was a traditionalist so I had always dreamed of my future husband asking my father’s permission first. And even though I had already said yes, I still wanted Fred to do that.
“So how was your Christmas?” Hermione asked. Ugh. How was it?! How do I even begin to explain this…
“Hermione…” I started. I wanted to tell her. I really wanted to tell her. Hermione was my best friend and a loyal roommate. Plus…I wanted her to be…well, my maid of honor. But…how would she react?
“It was great,” I ended up saying. She nodded, satisfied.
“I’m sure it was. How’d you take to the Weasley family?”
“I met Bill,” I informed her. “And Fleur. They got engaged.”
“WHAT?!” Hermione said, enthusiastically. She smiled before she continued. “That’s wonderful!”
“Yeah, I suppose it is,” I agreed. Well, that was a good sign. She thought their engagement was wonderful. But then again, Bill and Fleur had been dating for a year…not a few months…. Could I tell her? I trusted her to keep it under-wraps, yes. But…was now the right time? Ugh, was there ever a right time?!
“And…Hermione,” I began. She looked up and waited for my response. I paused, debating on what to say…or how to say it…
“So did I,” I spit out. It was coldly silent.
“I’m sorry…you what?” Hermione asked. I wasn’t sure if she really didn’t understand or if she just didn’t want to believe it.
“Fred proposed,” I answered. I unhitched the necklace from around my neck and revealed the ring Fred had given to me dangling from it. I took it off and placed it on my left ring finger. Woah…it was the first time I had done that, really…and I suddenly realized how real this all was. Wow…I was getting married. To Fred Weasley. In only a few more months.
“Oh my God!” Hermione said as she took hold of my hand. She examined the ring, as did I. It was a really gorgeous ring. Apparently it had been Fred’s grandmother’s and was the ring Arthur gave to Molly when he proposed. It was a platinum, prong set ring with a round diamond solitaire embraced by a micropavé double halo setting. This ring had been passed down from generation to generation and, if Fred and I had kids, it would be passed down to them as well when the time was right. Because this ring was so special to the family, it was the mother’s decision to give it to whichever son they felt was ready…so why Molly decided to give it to Fred, especially considering how short of a timeframe we had been dating, was beyond me. That was something I could ask her in a later time, though.
“Emma…you’re serious?” Hermione asked after she had admired my engagement ring long enough. “I mean…this isn’t ‘play house’. This is a…big commitment…”
“I know it’s soon,” I said. “But…we’re in love, Hermione. And I don’t want to spend my life with anyone else but him – I know that for a fact. So…why wait? Why waste time?” She studied me for a minute and then smiled softly.
“I mean…we all sort of knew you would end up being together,” Hermione went on. “We just didn’t think it’d be this soon!” She smiled before continuing. “I’m happy for you, Emma. Truly, I am.”
“Good,” I said, a relief coming over me. “Because it’d be a shame if my maid of honor wasn’t.” Her eyes grew wide at the words I said.
“WHAT?!” she screeched, an even bigger smile forming on her face. “Emma!!” She hugged me and laughed at the news. “Of course I’ll be your maid of honor! Emma, this is…just…thank you, Em.” She hugged me again and I was relieved getting that off my chest. Of course, I’d have to tell Fred later, but I knew he’d understand.
* * * * *
Months passed, and my final year at Hogwarts was finally making its close. After all the years I had participated in the end of the term feast, none quite lived up to this year’s. It was finally here. Graduation. I was a mix of emotions, actually: excited to be done with school, thrilled to be marrying Fred once I was done, but at the same time, sad because I worried whether I would see any of the students or my favorite professors again.
I felt Fred put his arms around me from behind and place his head on my shoulder. He must have sensed my anxiousness and kissed my shoulder reassuringly. I couldn’t believe in just a few weeks, I’d be married to this man. I touched my engagement ring secured around my neck and I realized that today, after the ceremony, that I would finally be able to put it on my finger.
It had been really hard not telling anyone that Fred and I were engaged, although rumors had spread that that might be the case. No one pried us about it though, which made it a little easier. The only one who knew, as far as I was concerned, was Hermione and she promised to never tell a soul. However, I wasn’t positive that Fred hadn’t slipped anything to George or Ron. They were his brothers after all.
“I’m so excited!” Fred said, spinning me around, a grin appearing on his face.
“We finally won’t have to put up with bloody OWLS or Snape anymore,” George piped in. “Of course, we did make some good memories at this place.”
“I think I’ll miss it,” I confessed. I watched as the twins stifled a laugh even though I was being serious. “Oh, don’t mock me; I will!”
“Oh my,” Fred said pulling me in for a hug. “Who are you and what have you done with my Emma Blakely?” I tickled his ribs as I smiled up at him and watched him squirm. He was right though. I was excited to get out of here and never have to see Snape’s face again or take an exam. But at the same time, this place had been my home for the last seven years, and it would be hard to leave all the same.
We took our seats at our regular spot; myself next to Fred, Fred next to George, Ron across from him, Harry next to Ron and Hermione across from me. Next to Hermione sat Neville Longbottom and Luna Lovegood along with many other Gryffindors that I knew. Just then, Dumbledore stepped up to the podium.
“Good evening,” he began. “Once again, it has dwindled down to that time of year where we must reflect on what we have learned this year, be grateful for the friendships we’ve made, and say goodbye to those seventh year students who will leave us this evening, taking with them the knowledge they have acquired at Hogwarts and pertaining it to the Wizarding world around them.”
I realized in that moment that this would be the last time I’d see Dumbledore up at that podium, the last time I’d hear his end of the term speech, the last time I’d see Professor McGonagall fight back the tears welling up in her eyes, the last time I’d sit next to Fred and George, across from Hermione and Harry and Ron, the last time I’d sit in this hall, eat this feast…and suddenly, I was having trouble fighting back the tears. I grabbed Fred’s hand as an anchor to control my emotions, but it didn’t really help.
“Shall we begin with a few words from one of Hogwarts’ finest students,” Dumbledore continued. “Throughout his seven years at Hogwarts, he has made an impression among students through his academics, in his relationships with others, and his natural ability in leadership both on and off the Quidditch Pitch.” Quidditch Pitch?! Oh no. I looked around to find the one person who Dumbledore might be describing, but no matter where I looked, my eyes couldn’t find him. Oh, Dumbledore…please…please not –
“Please stand with me as I welcome one of Hogwarts’ finest, young men one last time…Mr. Oliver Wood.”
I held my breath as I stood and grasped that Oliver was about to give the final speech for our class, on the year and his experience at Hogwarts. I couldn’t help but worry about what he might say, if he would say anything about me or…worse…
“Thank you,” Oliver said, cueing everyone to be seated. He paused and cleared his throat until the room fell silent. I couldn’t look as he started.
“Fellow classmates, friends and students,” he began. “There comes a time where students and professors alike must sit back and reflect upon who they are, where they’ve come from and how they’ve changed. For myself, I look back on my seven years of Hogwarts and one word comes to mind: grateful.
“The memories that render my mind as I reflect on my time at Hogwarts leave me with an abundant gratitude toward my professors, friends and fellow students. While at times there were moments that left me discouraged and frazzled, there were lessons behind them that shaped me into, as Dumbledore claims,” he smirked before he went on, “the fine, young man I am today.” I rolled my eyes as he gloated in his glory. Ugh. Fine, young man my ass. He was still a conceited pig to me –
“But let me encourage you, my fellow wizards and witches, to do the same. To be grateful for the time we’ve had at Hogwarts. For we have not been privileged to attend Hogwarts for nothing. Hogwarts has prepared us for much more than the knowledge of spells or potions. Hogwarts has prepared us for life in all circumstances; be it in how we adapt to situations when things don’t go according to plan, or how we find the courage deep within ourselves to do things we think we can’t possibly do, only to find that we had the ability to do it all along. Hogwarts has prepared us in learning how to live on our own, away from our parents, away from our families and has really taught us how to grow up into wizards and witches they are proud to claim as their own. Hogwarts has helped us figure out who we are, where we came from and how the fears of our pasts don’t limit our futures.” Wow. This was a really awesome speech. I never realized how keen of a speaker Oliver was, and soon I began to relax as I hung on every word the Scottish wizard said.
“Hogwarts has truly trained us for the things that will await us once leaving this place. In how we conduct ourselves, in our work ethics and in our studies.” He paused, before continuing on. When he looked up my eyes met his and we just stayed like that for a moment, just looking into each others’ eyes. No. I was not falling under the spell of Oliver Wood again. No, but something was going on inside of him. Something he was searching for. Wanting. Asking for? Either way, I got a bad feeling inside of what he was about to say next.
“But most importantly…” he continued, “…in our relationships.”
Gulp. Shit. Fuck. What was he going to say about that?! That was only a cue to another paragraph about relationships and…what if he brought up a…personal experience?
“Look around us,” he began, which was ironic for him to say considering he didn’t take his eyes off of me. “Look at the friendships we’ve made. These are the friendships that will be with us forever. These are the relationships that have made us who we are. These are the people who taught us how to live.
“To the seventh years who, along with me, will be leaving this place tonight,” he finished. “Remember your time at Hogwarts. Remember the experiences you had. Remember the good, the bad, the hopeful and the horrific, for these are the experiences that have shaped us into who we are and who we are yet to be. Remember where you have come from and the roots you have made through these halls, the impressions you’ve made upon those here, and the legacy you leave behind for students and professors to come. Thank you.”
The room broke into applause and I couldn’t help but stand with everyone else in a bustling and roaring ovation. As much as I didn’t want to admit it, Oliver really did inspire and his speech was truly phenomenal. If it had been me up at that podium, I wouldn’t have known what to say at all, yet Oliver spoke with ease, confidence and, as always, charm. Dumbledore stood to the podium and lifted his hands cueing everyone to sit. As the cheers and clapping faded down, Dumbledore smiled, and I knew the ceremony was near over.
“Thank you, Mr. Wood, for those inspiring and motivating words,” Dumbledore started. “We shall truly miss your leadership and presence throughout this school. And now, it is time to announce the winners of this year’s House Cup.” Everyone suddenly was on the edge of their seats and all eyes were glued to Dumbledore, giving them their utmost attention.
“In fourth place with 1,629 points…Hufflepuff!” Everyone cheered out of respect, but no one particularly was excited. It was fourth place…what’s to really be excited about?
“In third place with 1,887 points…Ravenclaw!” Again, everyone cheered and most of the Ravenclaws slumped back in disappointment, except the first years, who were mostly excited they weren’t in fourth.
“In second place with 2,074 points…”
‘This was it,’ I thought. ‘The House Cup winner rests on the results of this announcement.’ And if Slythren was announced as second…I wasn’t sure if I’d be able to stop cheering.
“…SLYTHREN!” Dumbledore announced. The cheers from the Gryffindor tables erupted, as did Ravenclaw and Hufflepuff. The reality, as always in Hogwarts, was that nobody wanted Slythren to win the House Cup.
“Which means,” Dumbledore continued above the noise. Everyone shushed down before he went on. “That the winners of this year’s House Cup…with 2,503 points is…” he paused before answering. Say it…say it…OH MY GOSH, DUMBLEDORE JUST SAY IT –
“…GRYFFINDOR!” Wizard and witches hats flew in the air as I stood up along with my House in excitement. I put my arms around Fred and hugged him as he spun me around. We won. Our House won! What an awesome way to end my career at Hogwarts. I kissed Fred square on the mouth and he passionately held my head in place to kiss me back. I couldn’t help but smile as I kissed him and I felt a smile break across his lips too. I broke away and as I looked into my fiancé’s eyes and he put his hands around my neck, undoing the necklace that held my engagement ring. He pulled it off of me, a smile on his face and slowly placed the ring on my left ring finger. I stared down at it for a few seconds before clutching his hand and meeting his eyes again.
“Let’s tell them,” he said. “Tell them all. Right here. Right now.” I nodded and Fred stood up on his seat and whistled, quieting everyone down.
“I have an announcement!” Fred projected throughout the room. “My name is Fred Weasley and I am in love with Emma Blakely!” Whistles and cheers scattered throughout the room before Fred continued.
“But the best part is,” he went on. He looked down at me and put out his hand, wanting me to stand up with him. I shook my head but he pulled me up by the wrist anyway.
“…I’m gonna marry her!” He quickly threw my arm above my head so everyone could see the ring on my finger. Again, the room erupted with cheers and whistles and applause, even from some of the professors such as Professor McGonagall and Professor Lupin. I couldn’t help but laugh as I saw the mouths of the Weasley brothers and Harry drop to the floor in shock. Out of everyone, they were the most excited. Fred kissed me on the lips and the cheers grew even louder and more out of control.
As I sat down in my seat, my eyes met a familiar, yet sad and confused face…the one and only…Oliver. I didn’t think it would bother me – no, it shouldn’t bother me at all! But…I couldn’t help but feel a little sorry for him. Yes, it had been months since we talked, since Fred and I had gotten together, but the reality is he should’ve known it was serious. Everyone else did! And the rumors had been going around. Maybe he was just dismissing them because…oh, who knows, honestly. He shook his head a little and left my gaze, but I knew in his eyes he was hurt.
Dumbledore dismissed us and gave his good lucks for the seventh year students. The seventh year students then rose for a special applause and special acknowledgement. Then we proceeded out the Great Hall and out toward the boats that first carried us to Hogwarts our first year. It was really sentimental, walking out those doors, but I was ready. The class had a few moments before boarding to say goodbye to everyone. A lot of people came up to Fred and I, wishing their congratulations and best of luck to us. Fred had gone off somewhere and I was talking to a group of girls as they admired my ring, when I suddenly was interrupted.
“Emma!” a voice said behind me. I turned around and there a few feet away stood Oliver, attractive and charming as ever. I cocked my head to the side and walked over to him, giving him permission to converse.
“Nice speech, Wood,” I complimented him. “Really. Very well done and inspiring. I wouldn’t have expected anything less from you.” I smiled, trying to make sure he knew I was sincere and it appeared he did.
“Thanks,” he said, a smirk across his face. “And I wouldn’t have expected anything less from you either. With your engagement.” I frowned. What was that supposed to mean?!
“Oh stop,” he laughed, “I’m congratulating you.”
“Poor choice of words, I’m afraid, Wood,” I said, a frown still across my face.
“What I mean is…I knew it would end up being you and him in the end,” he confessed. Woah…what?! He knew what?!
“Oh…well…thank you,” was all I could muster up. What was I seriously supposed to say to that anyway?
“It’s a beautiful ring,” he said, admiring my finger.
“Oh, thanks,” I answered, bringing it up to light.
“It really suits you,” he continued. “But I can’t half notice it since your eyes sparkle a million times brighter.” He smirked as he watched my mouth drop. Was he seriously hitting on me, STILL, as an engaged woman?!
“Watch it, Wood,” I sneered as he laughed at my expression. I had to laugh too, actually. Oh, Oliver Wood. Will you never grow up?
“Thanks for being a great Quidditch Captain all these years,” I said, changing the subject. “You really were terrific.”
“I know,” he said, smirking and I rolled my eyes. He laughed and I couldn’t hide back a smirk.
“Typical Oliver,” I expressed.
“But no, thank you, Emma,” he began. “For being my star player…even when I…wasn’t a star captain.” Geez, where was all this coming from? Oliver being sentimental? It had to have been because of the hype of graduating. Let it all out, Wood, let it all out.
“Well, best of luck to you in your Quidditch career,” I wished him.
“And to you in your marriage,” he added, though it was a more serious tone. Suddenly, I felt him wrap his arms around me and pull me in for a hug. What?! What was going on with him today?! Oliver was now hugging me? I didn’t want to seem awkward so I hugged him back, but it was short-lived.
“Emma, we need to go,” Fred said, slipping his arm around me and pulling me out of Oliver’s arms. I looked up to read his face and there was a slight glare on it. Ugh, great. Not now.
“Oh, Fred’s right,” Oliver stated, realizing everyone was headed towards the boats.
“Um, honey, Oliver was just congratulating us on our engagement,” I told Fred, hoping this would make things less awkward.
“Oh was he?” he asked. I noticed his eyes did lighten up a little, but it was probably because he wanted to rub it in Oliver’s face some more and he liked that Oliver understood that I was Fred’s. Ugh. I was not some trophy to be thrown around!
“Yes, congratulations, Fred,” Oliver said, shaking his hand. “I’ve got to tell you, you definitely have quite the catch here with Emma. You certainly beat me to it.” He was trying to be civil with Fred, but he was failing miserably as I noticed Fred’s eyes turn into glaring slits again.
“Yes. I certainly did,” Fred said between his teeth. “Come on, Emma, let’s go.”
“Nice talking to you, Oliver,” I waved as Fred led me to the boats.
“As was with you, Ms. Blakely…well, Weasley.” He looked a little distraught as I left but I couldn’t do anything about it. Besides, Oliver, it seemed, was still on Fred’s bad side…and, therefore, I had some explaining to do.
“Baby,” I started calmingly as I stepped into the boat. “Be nice.”
“Be nice?” Fred asked, a tad exasperated as he followed me. “Okay. Tell me to be nice when I walk over and find Oliver, your ex-boyfriend who hasn’t talked to you in months, not to mention the same guy I told to never talk or look at you again, suddenly with his arms around you and yours around him. Yeah, I can be nice to that.” Ugh. This was going to be a lot harder than I thought.
“Babe,” I said, leaning in to kiss him on the cheek. “He honestly was just saying congratulations. That was it. He isn’t a threat, okay? Besides, it makes me feel like you don’t trust me when you get like this and if you don’t trust me then…” I knew this would sting him, but I had to say it, “…this isn’t going to work.”
He looked into my eyes almost immediately and I saw the sting in them. It’s not like I wanted that or anything or was turning him down! But he knew that I was right all the same. He held my chin and pulled me in to kiss him. It was a very soft and gentle kiss that had the word “Sorry” leaked through it. He broke away, but I stopped him by holding his head and bringing him back in for another. I wanted to make sure he knew that I loved him and that I was definitely going to marry him…and that I could hardly wait for it. When I pulled away, I looked into his eyes and smiled.
“Feel better now?” I asked, reading his face for an answer. He smirked and nodded kissing me quickly on the lips again.
“God, how you get to me,” he said once he broke away. He placed his arm around me and I stared up at the castle that used to be our school. It was a really touching moment for all of us, as I watched it disappear in the clouds. I almost got emotional thinking about it, the moment I first rode in on these boats and how I was literally sitting right next to Fred and George, just like we were now. It was unreal how things worked out. I never would have thought that these two people would mean so much to me…and that I would be marrying Fred the next time I’d be riding in these boats. I took Fred’s hand as I continued to watch the castle fade into the distance, and I smiled up at him and then to George, grateful that we would be in each other’s lives forever.
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