The last chapter. It's all emotional now. I always feel a bit of sadness at the end of my stories. Thank you all for sticking with this story and for enjoying it so much!
Hermione blinked as the reflection of the sun from the lake invaded her eyes. She slipped her sunglasses back onto her nose and smiled, feeling three small people sit around her.
"Hey guys." She said.
Ashley let her hair out of her ponytail and shrugged her robes off. "Just relaxing Professor?" she asked.
Hermione smiled and wrapped her arm around James's shoulders. "Yeah. I can't believe we all go home tomorrow." She said.
Lucas groaned. "I bloody can." He said.
James laughed and threw grass at him. "We've had a good year. I've got many stories to tell Alyssa." James said.
Hermione smiled, watching the trio laugh about their first year together. She could hardly believe that almost a year had gone past. The students would all be heading back to London this time tomorrow, their heads full of information and their plans for a mischievous summer.
"Are you moving in with Uncle Ron, Hermione?" James asked.
Hermione smiled at the three curious faces. "Yes, I am. We have organized it all." She said, smiling at the memory. Ron had asked her to move in with him only a month ago. She had been somewhat reluctant at first, but after she and Ron visited Andrew and discussed it, she finally agreed.
"Well good. Then we can all come visit you." Ashley said, stretching. Hermione raised an eyebrow.
"Excuse me?" she chuckled.
James laughed. "Ashley and Lucas are going to stay over at my house over the summer, so we can come visit you and Uncle Ron." He said.
Hermione nodded, but her sun was suddenly rudely interrupted as a large figure stepped in front of the group. "I'm locking the doors then." Ron said, smirking.
Lucas laughed. "We're house-trained Professor. You don't need to worry about a mess on the floor." He said, flashing Ron another Malfoy smirk.
Ron laughed. "Its not you I'm worried about. Its him." Ron said, pointing at James.
James sat up indignantly and let out a cry of mock outrage. "You'll pay for that comment!" he yelled.
Hermione laughed as James crawled forward and grabbed Ron around the knees, making him fall to the ground with a laugh and a grunt. She watched on in great amusement as Ashley and Lucas climbed on top of him as well, each of them wrestling him deeper into the grass.
"Oh no, attacking first years! Oh, the horror of it all!" Ron cried dramatically. The trio squealed as Ron lifted both his hands, making the 11 year olds fly off him, leaving them hanging in mid-air.
"Ron, be careful!" Hermione said, getting up.
Ron laughed, shrugged and slowly set the kids back down on their feet. They all laughed hard as Ron grabbed for them again. Hermione laughed as they ran off towards the castle, screaming and jumping the whole way.
Ron wrapped his arm around Hermione's waist, putting his hand on her back pocket. She did the same and they walked up to the castle together.
Neville and Harry watched as Ron paced nervously in front of them, his finger between his teeth in panic.
"Ron, honestly. Its not going to be an episode of bloody 'Days of our lives'." Harry said, rubbing his eyes underneath his glasses. Neville nodded as Ron looked at Harry in horror.
"Are you insane? Anything could go wrong! She could hate me for the rest of her life!" Ron said.
Neville snorted, but ceased his laughter after Harry hit him in the chest. "She wont hate you Ron. She loves you. Emphasis on the word 'Love'." Harry said, talking slowly and calmly.
The three men were sitting in Harry's living room. Ron had dragged Neville over with him so he could run his idea by the two of them. They were his advice givers in times such as these.
Ron flopped down on the couch opposite the two men and groaned. "But there's so much that could go wrong!" he said, squeezing his eyes shut.
"Look, its all about timing, presence and confidence." Neville said.
"How would you know?" Ron asked irritably.
"I saw it in a movie once." Neville muttered, shrinking back into his seat.
Harry rolled his eyes. "No, he's right. You've got to be self assured and cocky. Chicks dig that." Harry said, smirking.
Ron laughed and opened his eyes. "Cocky, but not arrogant." He said. Harry and Neville nodded. Ron sighed, stood up and ran a hand through his hair. "So, when's the best time to do it? Over dinner?" he asked.
Harry shook his head. "Too cliché." He said.
Ron frowned. "Yeah, you're right. She'll suspect something's up. After sex?" he asked.
Neville snorted. "Too 'soppy-romance novel'." He said.
Ron groaned and shook his head. "This is way too hard." He said, rubbing his face tiredly.
Harry chuckled, stood up and walked over to him. "Look, all that matters is that you do it. Don't feel rushed or pressured. She doesn't suspect anything yet does she?" he asked.
Ron shook his head. "No. I don't think so." He said.
"Well, when-ever you're ready. You've got forever anyway." Neville said.
Ron looked at him and smiled. "But I don't want to be her boyfriend forever." He said.
Harry considered his best friends dilemma for a moment. He could offer advice, but knowing Ron as well as he did, it would only make things far more complicated for him. He was stressing out enough about confronting Hermione as it was.
Ron let out a slow breath and looked at his watch. "We'd better get back." He said, looking at Neville. Neville sighed, nodded and stood up.
"Ok, well just relax. Don't get in a rut and start pulling your hair out." Harry said, smirking. Ron laughed and hugged his friend.
"Thanks mate. And you'll be the first to know." He said.
Harry laughed, clapped Ron on the back and released him. "Damn right." He said. Ron smiled and stepped aside as Harry and Neville shook hands. "You two take care. I'll see you in a few days." Harry said.
Ron and Neville nodded and disapparated seconds later.
Harry sighed and smiled as Alyssa came running into the room. "Have Uncle Ron and Uncle Neville gone already?" she asked.
Harry nodded. "Yes sweetheart, they have." He said.
Alyssa looked very upset as she flopped down on the couch, clutching something in her hand. "But...I wanted them to give this to James." She said, holding up her piece of paper.
Harry smiled and sat down next to her, sensing that the waterworks were about so start. "James comes home tomorrow, honey. You can give it to him then." He said, smoothing out her flaming red hair.
Alyssa sighed dramatically, plucked Harry's glasses off his face and placed them on her own. "I have missed him. I hope he brings me back a toilet seat like he said he would." She said, giggling.
Harry laughed and scratched her back softly. "Yes well...we'll see about that." He said.
Alyssa smiled, placed her piece of paper on the floor and relaxed into Harry's lap. "So, what was Uncle Ron stressing about?" she asked.
Harry chuckled. "Something very important."
Hermione snorted as she watched two boys shoving each other playfully in front of her. They were sitting on the steps out the front of the entrance hall, enjoying the sun and lack of exams.
"No way. The cannons do not have a range total of 64. Its 73." Joel said.
Darien rolled his eyes. "I'm telling you its 64. They're new keeper isn't that bloody good." He said.
"But Ron's total still stands! No-one has beaten it yet." He said, throwing an empty packet of something at Darien's head.
Darien laughed and ducked it. Hermione's eyes widened as she looked at Darien. She had been right. He was a lot more handsome when he smiled.
She smiled and walked up to them. "Honestly, you boys and your stupid sports." She said.
They looked up at her and smiled. "Hey, you know Ron's range record off by heart. Maybe you can tell this dunderhead that its still 74." Joel said.
Hermione rolled her eyes and sat down in between them. "Well, its not 64." She said, smiling at Darien.
"Ha!" Joel said triumphantly.
"And, its not 74 either." Hermione said, cutting Joel off.
"Ha!" Darien retorted. "What is it then?" he asked.
Hermione laughed. "What on earth brought this up anyway?" she asked.
Joel and Darien exchanged a look, before they laughed. "You actually." Darien said.
Hermione looked at him. "Me? Been talking about me have we?" she asked.
"That's right. Fawkner was telling me how you snapped him out of his 'self- absorbed git' kick he was on. So, then we got talking about you." Joel said.
"How you have this quirky way of teaching...' Darien started.
'...not to mention your hair. How do you get it like that?" Joel said, flipping strands of her hair around.
"...and your outfits! They put many of the students to shame!" Darien said, smirking.
Hermione rolled her eyes and hit them both playfully in the knee. "I think I liked it better when you two didn't finish each other sentences." She said.
Joel chuckled. "We have one more day as students, and therefore are going to tease as many professors as possible." He said.
"So far we've already cornered Dumbledore, McGonagall, Hagrid and Snape." He said, counting off his fingers.
"Don't forget Trelawny." Joel chuckled.
Darien laughed. "Man, the woman nearly had a heart attack. We set up a Crab shape in her tealeaves. She's cleaning out her wardrobe now, thinking that an invasion of moths is going to come and eat her or something." Darien said.
Hermione fought back a huge smile. "That wasn't very nice." She said, finding she couldn't control her laughter.
Joel sniggered. "It was funny as all hell though." He said. Darien chuckled, held out his hand across Hermione and he and Joel gave each other a high five.
Hermione watched on in amazement. Since Christmas 5 months ago, the two of them had become increasingly good friends. The Slytherins were not very impressed with Darien befriending a Gryffindor, let alone a Weasley. But what Darien had told her was true. He really didn't give a damn about what they thought.
"So, where's Professor Weasley? Have 'mum' and 'dad' had a fight?" Darien asked.
Hermione smiled. "No, he's gone to see Harry. But, he will be back for dinner." She said. Joel and Darien nodded.
A moment of silence passed between the three individuals, before Hermione shook herself and stood up. "Well, dinner's almost ready. She we make our way to the Great hall?" she asked.
Joel and Darien exchanged and looked, before they stood up and held their arms out. Hermione laughed, linked her arms with both of them and let them lead her up into the castle.
"Oh, and by the way...Its 78. Ron's better than 74." Hermione chuckled.
Dumbledore was saying something. Ron was aware of this. But exactly what his meaningless words contained, Ron would forever wonder. His mind was on her...and only her.
She was glowing, laughing softly as Hagrid whispered something in her ear. So much more relaxed than her first time sitting at the staff table. Her posture was assured, confident and relaxed. Every time she giggled, her face would light up with a joy Ron had always admired.
Ron clapped reflexively as the sound of applause filled his ears, bringing him slightly back to reality. He saw Dumbledore sit down out of the corner of his eye, but simply watched her.
She must have noticed his eyes on her, as she shifted her gaze to him. She smiled, winked and mouthed 'I love you'. Ron smiled, replied and blew her a kiss. She smiled warmly at him, before turning back to Hagrid and her plate of food.
And then, something shifted in Ron's brain. This was it. This was the perfect moment.
He was ready.
"I'm doing it now." Ron said.
Neville, who was sitting next to him, nearly dropped his fork. "You...you're doing it now? In front of the entire school?" he asked.
Ron smiled and nodded. "Its perfect." He said.
Neville watched on as Ron stood up, left his untouched meal and walked to the front of the staff table.
"Everyone! May I have your attention please? OI, shut up!" he shouted to the hall. The hall laughed and quieted down, their attention now fixed on him. "Good, now before we all get too into our meals...I have something I would like to do." He said.
"STRIP!" a large crowd of 6th years girls cried out.
The entire hall rang with laughter as Ron shook his head, smiling broadly. "No, maybe next year. This is far more important." He said, smirking. "Professor Granger, would you please join me up here for a moment?" he asked, looking over his shoulder.
Hermione raised an eyebrow, but did as he said. She smiled as the hall gave her applause.
"What's all this about?" she whispered, stepping up to him.
Ron smiled and sighed. "I should have done this a long time ago." He said. Hermione smiled at him, not knowing at all what this was about. "Ok...' Ron said.
And he got down on one knee.
Hermione's eyes widened as he reached into his pockets. Many people were letting out cries of amazement and excitement as Ron looked up at Hermione, his hand still in his pocket.
"Hermione, there's no-one in this world that I love more than you. Every day, I find myself falling deeper in love...and that's both scary and exciting." He said. Hermione let out a small laugh as he produced a small box and opened it.
Inside was a ring.
Hermione felt herself tearing up as Ron took a deep breath. "Don't make me spend the rest of my life living without you by my side Hermione." He whispered. "Will you marry me?" he asked.
Hermione fell to her knees, tears now falling down her face as she laughed and stroked his face softly.
"Yes Ron." She whispered.
The entire hall exploded with applause as Ron laughed, looking at her with amazement.
"Yes?" he repeated?
Hermione laughed and kissed him. "Yes. I'll marry you." She laughed.
Ron smiled the biggest smile in his life and stood up with her. He plucked the ring out of the box and took her hand, the crowd still cheering them on.
Ron slowly slipped the ring on her finger. It fitted her perfectly. He smiled, still feeling very light headed. "You said yes!" he whispered.
Hermione laughed and threw her arms around his neck, hugging him tightly. Ron smirked, pulled back and dipped her, kissing her very deeply indeed.
Once again, the entire hall broke out in applause as Hermione lifted her leg into the air, feeling like a dramatic teenage girl out of a romance novel. She didn't care if she looked ridiculous, and if anyone had pointed that out at that point, she would have very kindly told them to bugger off.
Ron let her up and held her hands. He couldn't believe this. She had said yes. She's going to be my wife...I'm going to marry her...Hermione Weasley... Ron's mind was in overdrive.
He laughed again, dragged Hermione out of the hall and down the corridors.
He wanted to celebrate properly...
"Aright, come on! Hurry up!" Hagrid said, ushering the students on the train. Ron walked up to him and chuckled. "Ah, here he is. The newly engaged man of the momen'. How you feelin'?" Hagrid asked.
Ron smiled as he looked at Hermione a short distance down the platform. There was a collection of 7th year girls hanging off her, hugging her and talking very, very fast. But, as wonderful as she was, Hermione seemed to be keeping up with what they were saying.
"I couldn't be better." Ron said dreamily.
Hermione watched as Ron talked to Hagrid, trying to pry girls away from her. "Honestly girls, you'll be seeing me next year!" she laughed.
"Yeah, but I wont." Came a deep voice.
Hermione spun around to see Darien standing there, his hands in his pockets. The girls all said their final good-byes and hopped on the train.
"You haven't seen the last of me." Hermione said, smiling up at him.
Darien smiled, bearing his teeth. He didn't seem reluctant at all to express his feelings now. "You promise?" he asked.
Hermione smiled warmly up at him. He looked sad to be leaving, and she understood why. "I promise." She said. "So, seen as you're no longer my student, it wont be illegal and unethical if I do this." She said.
Darien didn't even have time to ponder her actions as Hermione reached up and kissed him softly on the cheek. He smiled down at her as she took his face in her hands.
"I am very...very proud of you." She whispered.
Darien couldn't help but blush. "Now Professor, you have to be careful of my ego." He said, smirking.
Hermione laughed and let him go. She looked over his shoulder where a large group of boys were standing. They were mostly Gryffindors with some Hufflepuffs and a Ravenclaw in the mix. They were all looking at Darien with expectance.
"Go on, go have fun." She said, straightening his tie.
He smiled, bent down and kissed her cheek. "Thank you." He whispered. "For everything."
She smiled as he took a few steps backwards, spun around and ran over to the boys. Hermione watched as Joel greeted him. Seconds later, the group began singing something loudly. A song they had obviously made up.
Hermione smiled as she heard a familiar laugh next to her. "Of all the people Darien Fawkner could develop a crush on...it had to be you." Ron said.
Hermione looked up at him and laughed. "Darien doesn't have a crush on me." She said, feeling as if the whole idea were absurd.
Ron smiled. "Hermione, half the male student body has a crush on you." He said.
Hermione stared up at him, not believing it. "On me? Ron, you're delusional." She said, shrugging him off.
Ron smiled and watched her, even after she had turned away. He couldn't understand how she hadn't noticed. Maybe it was simply a man thing. He recognized the looks of teenage boys and whether Hermione was will to admit it or not...she was a very good-looking woman.
Hermione smiled as the whistle blew and James sprinted past her, jumped onto the train and stuck his head out the window.
"Suppose I'll see you at home." He called as the train slowly lurched into movement.
"You bet. Get your head in! Ron called. James laughed, waved and disappeared into the train.
Hermione waved the train out of sight, a feeling of relief flooding over her. One year over and another one was to come. She had not just survived her first year as a teacher, she had flourished. She sent out a private thank you to Professor Flitwick for deciding to resign.
Ron sighed and put his hands on her hips. "Want to go back to the castle? We'll have it entirely to ourselves." He whispered.
Hermione smiled and ran her hands up his arms. A dilemma yet again. Stay and make-out with Ron on this platform for all of Hogsmeade to see...or go back to the castle and do the same thing. She thought.
She smiled as another idea popped into her head. "Lets go tell Harry and Ginny." She said, grabbing his hands.
Ron laughed. "But...cant I have you alone for a few minutes?" he whined.
Hermione chuckled. "You had me last night...and twice this morning." She whispered.
Ron smirked and shrugged. "I can't help it if you're sexy as all hell." He whispered.
Hermione laughed, kissed him quickly and dragged him a bit off towards the village. "No, come on! We have to tell Harry and Gin first, then we have to tell our parents...and...'
"Whoa! Alright! Gees woman." He laughed, pressing a finger to her lips to silence her. "Ok, we'll go on one condition." He said.
Hermione raised an eyebrow. "And what's that?" she asked.
Ron smiled and whipped his wand out. "Race you!" he called and vanished with a 'pop'.
Hermione laughed and shook her head. As she pulled her wand out, she marveled in the feelings he produced within her.
She was going to marry him. They would be together for as long as their lives permitted it...and hopefully long after that. They had a special connection between them that the fates alone could only have planned. So different in past and personality, and yet they could belong to only each other.
And a split second before she followed him, she looked down at her ring on her finger and up at the castle on the horizon...a last thought popping into her head.
Just like it always was.
A/N – Well ladies and gents, there you have it! If this ending was not satisfactory, buzz me and I shall change it. I don't want to let you all down with a bad ending. I want to thank you all for being so supportive of my writing, and I hope you read some of my future works.