Chapter 24 * Start of Something New *

Harry shivered and rolled over in his sleep, stretching out an arm to pull Hermione closer to him. When he felt nothing but empty space, his eyes snapped open and he sat up quickly.

"I'm right here, babe," he heard Hermione's voice drift over the darkness.

He pushed back the covers and felt his way over to the window seat she was sitting on. She scooted up and Harry sat behind her, wrapping his arms around her shoulders when she leaned into him. "What's wrong? Can't sleep?" he asked, stifling a yawn.

He felt Hermione shake her head slightly. Though he could hardly keep his eyes open, especially since he had played the last Quidditch game (and won it) of the year just hours before, he forced himself to stay awake.

"No, but you should. You must be tired," Hermione answered, feeling Harry lean his chin on the top of her head. The way he was combing her hair with his fingers would be enough to put anyone to sleep but she was just too nervous.

"But the bed is so cold without you!" he whined making Hermione laugh. "Nervous?" he added, in a much more serious tone. If he were fully awake he would probably be nervous also. Leaving the place he had considered home for the past seven years would not be easy; especially since his life had taken a turn for the unknown when Sirius had been killed. Harry pushed these thoughts out of his head, though, as he focused his attention to the person he would be spending the rest of his life with.

Hermione nodded again and sighed. "I never thought we would actually be leaving. I mean, I knew we would graduate but the day seemed so far off that I didn't give it another thought. And now, before I can actually comprehend what's happening, seven years fly by and I'm trying on my Hogwart's graduation robe. Where did all the years go?" she knew Harry wouldn't be able to answer that question, even the 'know-it-all Hermione' couldn't answer it. They had been great years and she was sure that the years to come would be even greater. But why did it all have to pass by so fast?

Harry stood up and pulled Hermione to her feet. "Come on," he told her, leading her to their common room. He cast a burning spell on the fireplace and a warm fire erupted from the black ashes. He sat down on the large velvet couch and motioned for Hermione to do the same. When they had finally gotten comfortable, he turned to her with such a serious expression it was almost funny. "Are you scared?" he asked her, catching her off guard.

"Scared? No ... I just ... I don't know ..." Hermione had never even considered being scared but as she thought about it she was scared. The students at Hogwart's had been sheltered, not exactly from all the evil of the world, but they did have it pretty easy when Voldemort wasn't one of their constant worries. Now they would be pushed out into the 'Real World,' as the Muggles liked to put it, and be forced to adjust to doing things on their own without their professors telling them to do their homework and parents protecting them from everything.

She was scared; very scared, but as she looked at Harry, she felt a sudden guilt welling up inside of her. She could only imagine how Harry must be feeling. She adjusted herself on the large couch and patted her lap. When Harry's head was in her lap, she looked down at him and asked him the question he would never had answered truthfully if she weren't the person asking. "Are you scared?"

Without hesitation he nodded his head. "Yes. Extremely scared, actually. Like you, I knew this day would come eventually but thought it would be a long time coming. Now it's here and I still feel like I'll wake up tomorrow and complain with Ron about having Potions first thing in the morning like usual. And unlike you, I still don't know what I want to do with my life. I know I'll get plenty of job offers but only because of my name not because of what I can do or my grades."

Hermione ran her fingers through his mass of raven hair and stared into the fire. "You know, Harry, I don't know what I'm going to do either."

Harry gave a mocking gasp. "What? Hermione the genius doesn't know what she's going to be doing? Is this a joke or is it the end of the world?"

Hermione swatted him on the head but couldn't help but laugh. "Shut-up, Harry! I've always wanted to become a medi-witch though. I've always wanted to take care of children," she admitted.

Harry looked up at her and gave her one of his beautiful smiles. "A medi- witch, huh? Very you," he answered, linking their hands together and kissed her knuckles. "I think that's great, 'Mione," though she smiled back at him, he knew there was something wrong. He sat up and took her hands in his. "What's wrong, baby girl?"

Hermione bit her lip and turned her face towards the fire. A sudden thought had occurred to her and she was beginning to get worried all over again.

"Hermione? Hon, you can tell me," Harry urged her, gently. He was beginning to get worried, also, but for a whole different reason. What was she hiding from him that was so horrible she couldn't even look at him?

Hermione shook her head and turned towards him. "Harry, I - I didn't tell my parents that day I told you I did."

Harry looked at her with a puzzled expression. "Tell them what?"

She looked towards the fire again and replied so softly that Harry almost missed it. "They don't know we're engaged."

The sudden laughter that came from next to her startled her so much she jumped. "Harry! What's so funny?" she asked though secretly relieved. For some reason, she had thought Harry would be upset that she hadn't told her parents about their engagement. She certainly wasn't expecting him to start laughing like a maniac.

"Sorry, baby, but I couldn't help it," Harry gasped out, trying to stop laughing.

"Couldn't help what? What is so funny!" she asked again, beginning to get annoyed.

When he had finally composed himself, he turned back to Hermione and gave her the most loving smile, she almost started to cry. "Did you actually think I would get mad at you if you hadn't told your parents about us?"

Hermione gave a small nod, feeling her cheeks burn up from something other than the blazing fire.

"Well, I'm not. I know I don't know how it is to have overprotective parents but I'm sure they won't disown their only daughter! Besides, they like me," he told her with mock arrogance.

"Hm, if you weren't right I'd smack you silly," she told him. "But, seriously, when are we going to tell them? I really want you with me."

"Well, tomorrow, or today, should I say," Harry corrected himself, looking down at his watch. "would be as good a time as ever. They are coming to the Weasley household for the party afterward, aren't they?"

"Yeah, you're right. Okay, well, then it is!"she said with confidence, leaning back into Harry's open arms. "I have one more question, though. Where am I going to stay?"

Harry looked at her, confused. "What do you mean?"

"You're going to stay in your house, because it is yours, and Ron is going to stay with you. What about me? I don't want to stay with my parents, as horrible as that sounds," she told him, referring to the house Sirius had left him in his will.

Harry looked at her with an amused smile on his face. "You really should get some sleep, 'Mione, I think the lack of it is clouding your mind," Harry said, teasingly. "What's wrong with you staying with me and Ron? Since we are engaged, I'm sure your parents won't mind and by the way things look, I don't think Ron is going to stay single for too long. I think he might even get married before us!"

"Right! You know, you're right. I need to get to sleep because you are suddenly acting smarter than me," Hermione retorted with a smirk as she got up.

"Hey! That was uncalled for!" Harry cried, jumping up also. As he watched Hermione walk into their bedroom, laughing, he smiled to himself.

Things would turn out all right after all.

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Hermione tugged on her long golden robe as she waited for Dumbledore to announce her name.

"Herm, if you keep pulling on your robes like that, you'll end up going up there naked!" Ron exclaimed from his seat next to her.

Hermione gave him an annoyed glare and crossed her arms across her waist. She chose not to comment, however, because her stomach was doing so many flip flops she felt like she was going to be sick.

"You know, that wouldn't be so bad ..." Harry laughed on the other side of her.

This got a response. "Harry!" Hermione cried, cheeks beginning to burn.

Lavender was laughing so hard behind them that she could hardly get out a word.

"Thanks you guys! I really appreciate the comfort!" Hermione told them, glaring at the trio.

"Aw, you know we love you Herm!" Ron gushed, causing another round of laughter.

Hermione didn't get a chance to answer because Dumbledore chose that moment to call her name. "Now, here is Miss Hermione Granger, with top honors, to say a small speech to our graduating class!"

Harry kissed her quickly on the cheek before pushing her a bit to get her moving and whispered a short "Good luck" along with the rest of the Gryffindors. Though she wouldn't consider herself shy, Hermione hated, absolutely despised talking in front of large groups. She almost wished she had failed a class just to get out of the situation she was now in.

Hermione stiffly walked up to the podium and faced the cheering crowd. She had to take a deep breath to calm her rapidly beating heart. The audience was becoming a blur and she shook her head slightly.

"Go Hermione!" she heard a cry from behind her and recognized the voice as Harry's and Ron's. With a smile she took a deep breath and began the longest speech of her life.

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"Do you know how amazing that was?" Harry told her for the fifth time that day.

The ceremony was over and after the small party at Hogwart's was over, almost everyone had gone to the Weasley household for one of Mrs. Weasley's famous gatherings. Harry and Hermione had finally gotten some time alone and they were now seated outside under a large oak tree.

"Yes, Mr. Potter, I do believe you have. But please continue," Hermione replied, smiling.

Harry laughed and hugged her close. "Well, you were amazing. You had everyone up on their feet with tears running down their cheeks. I think I might have seen Snape brush some off his cheeks, even. Now there's a miracle."

Hermione laughed also, then sighed and shut her eyes, leaning against Harry. Everything was perfect. Well, almost perfect. Now if she could only find her parents and tell them the news ...

"Hey, 'Mione? I'm going to go get a drink, want anything?" Harry asked suddenly, standing up.

She looked up at him, squinting against the sun and nodded. "Sure, get me a butterbeer, please."

He nodded, kissed her quickly and ran off, his heart beating a mile a minute.

Harry had wanted to do this before he had asked Hermione to marry him but now was better than never. He quickly scanned the large crowd before spotting Mr. Granger and Mr. Weasley having an animated conversation.

"People on a screen? And you can't touch them? How interesting ...!" Harry heard Arthur Weasley exclaim as he walked up to the elderly men.

"Oh, hello Harry!" The men greeted. Mr. Granger gave Harry a relieved look, obviously happy to be saved from having to explain the television to a very excited Mr. Weasley.

"Hi. Could, I, um, speak to you alone for a moment, Mr. Granger?" Harry asked, trying to calm his heart.

"Certainly!" as Harry led Mr. Granger inside the house, Arthur gave Harry a reassuring smile and a thumbs up sign.

They went into the small study and shut the door. When that had both sat down, Harry cleared his throat and began. "Mr. Granger -"

"Call me Michael, Harry," the older man interjected kindly.

Harry nodded and continued. "Mr. Gr - Michael, Hermione is an amazing human being .."

"That she is."

"And I love her with all my heart. I want to ask your permission for your daughter's hand in marriage. I, um, already asked her but I wanted to make sure you agreed. I know we're young but we'll wait and I'll take care of her, though she's very independent. I won't ever hurt her. Please -" Harry rambled on afraid if he stopped Hermione's father would kill him.

"Of course."

"If you give me a chance, I'll .... wait. What?" Harry asked, his eyes getting wide. That was way too easy.

"I give you my permission to marry Hermione. You two are very young but also very responsible. I have always liked you, Harry, and I trust you with my daughter one hundred percent. You are honest, kindhearted, brave, and loyal."

Harry's cheeks were burning up but he smiled nonetheless. "Thank you! I promise I'll make her happy. I love her more than life itself," Harry answered, truthfully.

"I know you do. She loves you too. I see it by the way you two look at each other, as if there's no one in the world except for you. I also appreciate how you asked me first," Michael said with a warm smile then stood up. "Come on, everyone will be looking for us."

"Thank you, sir," Harry said, also standing up. He opened the door with a huge smile on his face. Though he knew Hermione would have married him even without her parent's permission, it lifted a weight off Harry's shoulders knowing that she would have the blessing of her father.

"There you are! Where'd you go for the butterbeer? Hogsmead?" Hermione asked with a teasing smile as Harry returned (bottle of butterbeer in one hand, thanks to Harry's great memory) and her father and mother in tow. Here we go ... she thought to herself as she stood up.

Harry kissed her cheek and handed her the drink. Hermione glanced at him before beginning the statement she had wanted to tell her parents since December. "Mum, dad, Harry and I are ..."

"Engaged. We know," Lisa Granger finished with a proud smile.

"What? How ... When ... Who told you?" Hermione was shocked, not only because her parents knew but because they seemed so happy about it!

"Harry asked me for my permission to marry you and I gave it to him. I do think you are very young but Harry assured me you two wouldn't tie the knot until you were absolutely ready," Michael told his daughter, his smile matching her mother's.

"I'm so happy for you! Oh, it'll be so fun planning everything!" Hermione's mother squealed before hugging her tightly. She looped her arm around Hermione's and began walking. "We can pick the dress, then the plate designs, the place it'll be held, of course, oh! and we can't forget the guests ...."

"Harry! Dad! Help!" Hermione cried, giving them pleading looks over her shoulder.

Harry and Mr. Granger laughed. "Sorry, love, no can do!" Harry called back, a warm loving feeling taking over his senses as he watched his fiance being dragged away by her mother. Everyone he loved was safe for now and that all that mattered.

Though it was only the beginning of a whole new life, Harry was confident that everything would work the way it was supposed to. It wasn't the end of something old, but the start of something new.

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Author's Note:

Well, this is the end of Untold Dreams. I hope you guys loved reading it as much as I did writing it! Thanks to every single one of you that read and reviewed my story, I loved every single review! Thank you so much! I have started a sequel, Life Of Dreams, and have uploaded up to the 6th chapter. I hope you guys will check that out, along with some of my ficlets (please?).

Thanks again!

:: Dreamer ::

P.S. Sally: Let's say they are in the year 2003, shall we? I'm horrible at dates (numbers of all kinds, actually) so that's good enough. And I will write about their lives before they get married. I was planning on doing that since they probably won't get married for at least 2 more years. Hope I helped and thanks so much for your review!

Fiddy: Thanks for correcting me on chapter 22. It's NEWTS not OWLS and I fixed it. Thanks for the info and your review!

Also, someone asked me about Anthony. He's still around and he'll show up in the next story and so will Voldemort but I don't think I'll write a patronus .. you know, a war or whatever. It'll just be a fight between Harry and Voldemort.

*** Disclaimer: This story is based on characters and situations created and owned by JK Rowling, various publishers including but not limited to Bloomsbury Books, Scholastic Books and Raincoast Books, and Warner Bros., Inc. No money is being made and no copyright or trademark infringement is intended ¤ THIS GOES FOR THE WHOLE STORY EXCEPT FOR ANTHONY -- HE WAS OF MY OWN INVENTION ¤ ***