All I Know
Author's note: I'm a horrible person for not updating sooner. Life has been so incredibly insane. My birthday's on Thursday and it's come almost as a complete surprise. Thank you so much to everyone who's reviewed! Hope you enjoy it, and that the wait's been worth it!
Epilogue: I can't get enough of your love, babe
Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry had never seen more perfect weather than presently. Rays of sunlight cascaded over the grounds, the castle gleaming golden. There was a sense that summer was approaching, yet couldn't come fast enough.
Inside the castle, agitation existed that exceeded the nagging feeling that the summer holidays were approaching.
In her quarters, Hermione paced back and forth, haphazardly throwing scraps of parchment about. She was muttering to herself, going over the words that she had written a month before. She repeated them, stopping to consider the nuances she put into each phrase. She practiced her facial expressions as she went.
Still frantically scurrying back and forth in front of her desk while mumbling, Ron, Harry, and Ginny threw open the door and tumbled into Hermione's room.
"It's your Co—" Ginny began to shout, but paused abruptly, seeing her friend's current state. "Hermione, are you feeling ill?"
Ron strode across the room to his girlfriend. Gently, he grasped her elbow to stop the pacing, "Hermione Jane Granger, Valedictorian and Head Girl for our year, what in Merlin's bloody beard are you doing darting about your room!"
Hermione swallowed nervously, her face pale. She began rambling with fragmented exclamations, "It's—it's our Commencement! Today! One of the milestones! That we'll always remember! I don't want to botch it! Ruin the day for everyone else because—I'm! I'm a bit nervous! About my speech!"
Ron rolled his eyes and placed his hands on her waist. "Fancy that." Quickly, he kissed her forehead and went on drolly, "You've only rehearsed it five trillion, seven billion and four times. I mean, as unprepared as you are, I'd reckon you'd be nervous."
Harry and Ginny sniggered.
Ron leaned forward to rest his forehead on hers, "Not to mention, you're incapable at handling pressure. I mean—a professor calls on you during lessons while Harry and I had been distracting you with something or other, and you never know what the answer is. Usually, you can't even recall the question being asked!"
Hermione's brow furrowed. She forced a frown, crossing her arms over her chest.
"Then, during examination time, you're a hopeless case! You're constantly cramming because you haven't organized and rewritten all of your notes—"
"Okay, Ron! I get the point!" Hermione interrupted, obviously irritated. She uncrossed her arms and looped them around her boyfriend's neck, still nose-to-nose with him, "I'll try to relax."
"As you should." Hastily, Ron kissed the tip of her nose.
"Weasley, you'll have to do a lot better than that to get me to relax." She smiled coyly.
If he was good for anything, Ron never had to be told twice to do something. He held her closer to him and brushed her lips with his. Agonizingly slowly, he kissed her. His tongue flicked over her bottom lip.
At the sight of their friends' tongues, Harry and Ginny exchanged disgusted looks, gagging.
"I reckon we should leave them be before they devour each other's faces…" Harry shuddered.
Ginny arched an eyebrow mischievously, "Besides, this is the last day we'll be together at Hogwarts. Might as well make the most of it. Perhaps my revolting brother and his girlfriend have the right idea."
Harry chuckled, taking her hand in his. "You're a naughty one, Ginevra."
"I try." She sniggered, pulling him out of the Head Girl's quarters and towards Gryffindor Tower.
Ron and Hermione finally parted, due to lack of oxygen. She smoothed his hair down in the back, where she had bunched it up in her fist. He winked at her as he pushed her curls over her collarbone to hide the mark he'd made with his mouth.
Hermione glared at him, "I can't believe you did that, Ron. Today, of all days."
"We're going to be wearing school robes, Hermione. No one will see it." Ron frowned. He paused, then leered, "You didn't seem to be protesting as I did it."
She rolled her eyes with a huff, but didn't say anything. Instead, she drew circles in the nape of his neck, eliciting a slight shiver from him. His arms tightened around her waist and his hands slipped to rest in her back pockets. She shrieked as he gave her bum a squeeze.
Randomly, Ron glanced around the room with a perplexed expression, "Where'd Harry and Ginny go?"
"Probably to your dormitory. Y'know, for one last snog before Harry has to—and I quote—'Abandon Ginny and force her to acquaint herself with those unworthy to befriend her in her year'." Hermione laughed, "She's so melodramatic about things like this."
"You'd think all of us were being shipped away to Azkaban, the way she goes on." He said dryly. She brushed the long fringe away so as not to obstruct her view of his eyes.
She sighed, "The three of us were her chief source of social amusement. At least, until Harry started monopolizing her."
He shrugged, "His monopolization has given us more time alone." He wiggled his eyebrows suggestively.
"Honestly, Ron, you purposely take pleasure in making me seem like a scarlet woman." Hermione blushed, with a slight pout.
Ron kissed the corner of her mouth, and tucked a curl behind her ear, "So long as you're my scarlet woman—"
Hermione interrupted, snickering, "I cannot believe you used that line!"
Ron scoffed, "Me? Use lines? What do you take me for, Miss Granger?"
"What you are, Mr. Weasley." She narrowed her eyes at him, "A sycophantic whipped bloke."
His jaw dropped, "I may be whipped, but I shamelessly flatter only you because I mean every word." He nuzzled her neck and trailed kisses down it.
Hermione rolled her eyes again and extricated herself from his embrace. Beaming, she glanced at the clock hanging on the wall, "I reckon it's time to get dressed." She moved across the room to smooth the wrinkles out of her best school robes, which hung on the back of her desk chair.
"If you wanted to rid yourself of me, all you had to do was say so." Ron hung his head in mock-dejection and stepped behind her. He rested his chin on her shoulder, wrapping his arms around her waist.
"Okay. Go away, Ron." She grinned, turning her head sideways to hastily kiss him. Playfully, he nipped her earlobe and did a little jig on his way out.
On the castle grounds, by the lake
Dusk settled upon the castle. Instead of looking up at the sky from the enchanted ceiling in the Great Hall, Hogwarts professors, students, and their families sat beneath the evening sky. The Commencement was held near the lake, most likely because it was the only location large enough to hold everyone in attendance. The giant squid usually slept until the wee hours of the morning, so it was no threat to the ceremony.
A stage had been magically constructed in front of the lake. The seventh years—outfitted in their best school robes, badges from their respective organizations and leadership positions pinned to their chests—sat in rows of chairs on the stage, and a podium was raised on its own platform in front of them. Albus Dumbledore, the Heads of each House, and the Head Girl and Boy were seated behind the podium. The rest of the professors and the students' family sat beside the stage. Dumbledore had made his classic farewell speech, and it was now Hermione's turn to make hers.
Hermione inhaled sharply, rose from her seat, and walked gracefully to the podium. Shakily, she placed her notes in front of her. Then, she took her wand out of a pocket in her robes and pointed it to her throat, "Sonorus."
Slipping her wand back into her pocket, she smiled nervously and gazed at her audience, "Good evening. For those of you who don't know me, I'm Hermione Granger, Head Girl of this year." She swallowed, "When I first came to Hogwarts at age eleven, I had read the textbook Hogwarts: A History in its entirety."
A few disbelieving twitters came from the crowd.
"For those of you who do not believe me, ask my classmates and professors for affirmation."
The seventh years' heads bobbed in unison. So did all of the professors who occupied the table on stage, as well as the chairs in the audience.
"I thought that magic was rather like a science—that all it took was reason, precision, and accuracy to figure out. After seven years at Hogwarts, I have come to realize that while it is all of those things, and it is also irrationality, indistinctness and inadvertence simultaneously.
It is here that I have learned everything that is of great importance. Before Hogwarts, I did not know how to transfigure a table into a parrot. I did not know how to charm pillows to sail across the classroom. I did not know about any of the ogre rebellions. I did not know names of magical creatures, particularly the dangerous ones."
Hagrid gave her a grin.
"I did not know the names of constellations or all of the planets' moons. I did not know—and still do not know—how to properly fly a broom or read tea leaves."
The Quidditch team and her housemates chuckled.
"Before Hogwarts, I—" Hermione paused, and slowly admitted, "—never truly had friends. Hogwarts has and always will be my home. Except for my parents, it has held those I love dearly."
The entire crowd turned to look at Ron Weasley, whose face turned crimson.
"I apologize for being biased, but the friends I have made are the most courageous and kind people I have ever met. And I'm not just speaking about the Gryffindors."
Those in Hufflepuff and Ravenclaw nodded in approval. The Slytherins rolled their eyes.
"Granted, all of us have had trying times. With every year came obstacles hurtled our way. With every year came a new, but terrifying new adventure to embark on. I have seen a giant animate Wizard's Chess set, a Chamber of Secrets, Animagi, Death Eaters, Unforgivable Curses, and Dark Marks. But now that the Dark Lord is gone, the worst days are over. At least, I like to think so."
Clouds shielded the remainder of the sun in the sky.
"It has been a long, infinitely rewarding journey. After today, we seventh years will embark on that clichéd journey of the rest of our lives. Some will be playing professional Quidditch. Some will work for the Ministry. Some will become professors here at Hogwarts. Others have not still decided what they will do."
The sun set deeply in the horizon, the sky was streaked with purple, pink, and gold.
"When I came to Hogwarts, I was an uptight, overbearing, frizzy-haired, perfectionist, know-it-all, eleven-year-old. Currently, I am a less uptight, only slightly overbearing, still frizzy-haired, still a perfectionist, seventeen-year-old witch who admittedly does not know it all."
Giggles escaped from everyone's mouths.
Hermione paused to inhale sharply, "Perhaps what I am trying to say, is that without my seven years at Hogwarts, I could not have turned out to be the person I am today. Upon reflection, every experience (good or bad), every person I have met (again, good or bad), and every professor I have been taught by (all good, of course)—"
Harry turned to Ron and muttered, "It's our last day and she's still sucking up to the professors."
Ron shrugged almost imperceptibly and whispered, "I think it's some sort of reflex."
Hermione continued, "—has helped me go through the metamorphoses I have gone through with the passing of each year.
The sincerest thank you that one—actually, one speaking on behalf of many—could give is in order. Thank you to Hogwarts, the institution itself, for giving all of us a haven from the rest of the world. Thank you to its professors from whom I have learned everything, yet been taught that there is so much yet to learn. Thank you to its students, my friends and rivals who have made me less obsessive about schoolwork and act more like my age.
And so I, and the rest of my class, bid Hogwarts in its entirety farewell.
But Hogwarts—do not think that you have gotten rid of Hermione Granger. This farewell is anything but permanent. In twenty years, I expect—no, I demand—that when I shall fetch the post one day, I shall find my children's Hogwarts letters wedged between The Daily Prophet and The Quibbler."
With that, Dumbledore gave Ron a wink. Hermione stepped back from the podium, fumbled in robes for her wand, and cast the spell to make her voice return to normal. When she looked up, everyone in attendance was standing, cheering. She turned around and saw her fellow year-mates had joined in. The table of Heads of Houses, as well as Dumbledore and the Head Boy Draco Malfoy, were participating in the standing ovation.
Hermione smiled. She bit her lip and blinked hard, but her emotional girlish side got the best of her. Several fat tears spilled from her doe-like eyes and down her cheeks. Ron was the first to rush out of his chair to congratulate her. He scooped her into his arms and twirled her around. Her arms flew around his neck as they laughed merrily. She shrieked as they dizzily came to a stop. As soon as her feet hit the ground, he kissed her ardently, neither caring that everyone saw.
The seventh years tossed their hats into the air. A flurry of black contrasted the rich colors in the horizon.
Suddenly, a familiar voice boomed across the excited chaos, "And now, we shall proceed to the Great Hall for the Commencement Feast and Ball. Actually, the students will change into ball attire, then meet all of us old wizards and witches there."
Hoards of students rushed towards their dormitories in the castle. The adults migrated to the Great Hall. Dumbledore charmed his voice to be quiet, once more.
Snape grumbled something incoherently.
"Severus, you are still in your prime. You must try to enjoy yourself, for once. Though I am older than Merlin, it isn't as though I would ever let the festivities end!" Dumbledore patted Snape's shoulder. He turned to Professor McGonagall and smiled slightly, "Minerva, will I have the pleasure of monopolizing you on the dance floor tonight?"
McGonagall raised an eyebrow, "How did Miss Granger so eloquently put it?" She tapped her chin with a finger, "Oh yes. To paraphrase the girl—I do not expect it. I demand it."
The smile on Dumbledore's smile grew exponentially, "I thought as much." He gave her a wink and offered his arm.
She rolled her eyes and took his arm, "Don't let it get to your head, Albus."
"Wouldn't dream of it." He glanced around and quickly kissed her hand.
In The Great Hall
"No! I refuse to believe it, Harry!" Ginny crossed her arms over her chest.
Dinner was over, and the dancing had just begun. The Weird Sisters were playing a fast, guitar-driven song. Harry and Ginny sat at a secluded table in the corner of the Hall. Their other coupled-off mates were dancing on the dance floor.
"I saw it with my own eyes, Gin! Dumbledore—that old cad—kissed McGonagall's hand! I stayed back on the fringes of the crowd for a reason. And that was, to confirm my theory."
"And your theory is…?" Ginny leaned forward, her ear inviting him to whisper his theory into it.
"Really, Ginny, there's no need for secrecy. It's a theory I, along with a few perceptive others, have come up with." He paused, lowering his voice and leaned towards her, "Nevertheless, one can't be too careful."
"Out with it, Harry!"
In the most serious tone possible, he quietly said, "Dumbledore and McGonagall are having a torrid love affair."
"Bollocks!" Ginny cried, between bursts of laughter.
"It makes sense, Ginevra Weasley!"
"No, it doesn't, Harry Potter!"
Ron and Hermione appeared at the table, almost as if they had Apparated. They were flushed from dancing (and snogging, their mates figured, as well).
"What doesn't make sense?" Ron asked.
Ginny rolled her eyes, "Harry thinks Dumbledore and McGonagall are having an illicit—"
"Torrid. While disturbing, it's perfectly legal." Harry corrected.
"Okay, torrid love affair." Ginny amended.
Hermione shrugged nonchalantly, "Tell me something I don't know."
Ginny cast a disbelieving glance at Hermione. "You're joking, aren't you, Hermione?"
"No." The older girl replied with a trace of her prepubescent arrogance.
Ron collapsed into a chair and pulled Hermione into his lap. She shifted so her legs were tossed across his lap and she looped her arms around his neck. He tightened her grip on her waist. "Gin, you like to pretend that Harry and I are the daft ones, when it seems you are the most oblivious of us all!"
Suddenly, Dumbledore and McGonagall waltzed to the Gryffindor Trio-plus-Ginny's table. They stopped waltzing, but still remained in close proximity.
"Messrs. Longbottom, Thomas, and Finnegan would like to collect the various amounts of money Messrs. Potter and Weasley bet." Dumbledore repeated verbatim what the boys told him.
"Funny that they need you, Headmaster, to tell us that." Ron replied. "Besides, they are the ones that lost."
"While I do not condone gambling of sorts, Weasley, enlighten me. What was the bet about?" McGonagall asked, her eyes flashing dangerously.
"Oh, y'know, Professor, um—Quidditch. The finals, and who is going to play for the World Cup." Ron said quickly.
"Right…" McGonagall nodded skeptically, then stopped. "You're a terrible liar, Weasley."
Dumbledore adjusted his spectacles on his nose, "'Tis of no consequence, Minerva. Perhaps it was just some Hogwarts gossip mill fodder." He paused, "Come to think of it, the reason Mr. Weasley will not divulge what the bet was about is probably because it was about us."
"Us!" McGonagall looked scandalized, "Us, as in you and I, Albus?"
"Yes." Dumbledore's eyes twinkled. He leaned over the newly graduated and upcoming seventh year and whispered, "Ginevra, you and Minerva have inverted endings to your names, which is probably why both of you have the same problem of knowing what is there." He smiled slyly, straightened his posture, and turned to offer his arm to McGonagall again, "Care for another dance, Minerva?"
She glanced nervously at her former students and one who still was her student, "Oh, what the bloody hell!"
Harry, Ron, and Hermione exchanged looks and promptly collapsed in their chairs, laughing. Ginny giggled. Ron glanced at his watch.
"Uh, I've got to go to the loo!" Ron placed Hermione in the chair adjacent to the one they'd been occupying.
"You've got a loo schedule, now?" Hermione asked, a puzzled look on her face.
"Er, yeah." Ron ran out of the Great Hall and called over his shoulder, "Be only a minute, love!"
Ginny shook her head, "I really don't know what you see in my brother. Positively mad one, he is."
Harry shrugged, "No more barmy than his lovely sister, I suppose."
Ginny shoved him playfully. He pulled her into his lap and nuzzled her neck. Hermione rolled her eyes and crossed her arms over her chest. Seconds ago, she was in that comfortable a position. That is, until her boyfriend announced he had to go to the loo. A bit dodgy, the whole thing was.
"May I have everyone's attention?" A recognizable voice echoed through the room.
Instantaneously, the entire Hall desisted activity and became silent.
Hermione's head whipped towards the stage. "Ron!" She turned to her mates, "What's he doing up there?"
"I haven't the faintest idea." Harry remarked.
"Neither have I…" Ginny concurred.
Hermione narrowed her eyes at the two, "You knew about this?"
"Maybe." They chorused.
One of the Weird Sisters handed Ron a guitar. "Hello, everyone. I'm Ron Weasley. I was the Gryffindor Keeper since fifth year, and have been best mate to thefamous Harry Potter and the brilliant Hermione Granger since first year. I've also been Hermione's boyfriend since the summer before this year."
Some girls cooed, while others shot Hermione daggers with their eyes.
He shouldered the guitar. "You see…it was a few months ago that I also realized that I had been, am, and always will be in love with Hermione. Even if we're not a couple who emphasizes grand gestures, I figured that it would be nice to do one on our Commencement night. One of the most memorable nights of our lives, without this." He took a breath, "Hermione, will you please come up here?"
Blushing, Hermione nodded and approached the stage. He gave her a hand and led her to sit on a stool in front of him.
"This song is for you. Obviously." Ron cleared his throat and grinned, "You see, there's this crazy American bloke called Barry White. A funk singer, actually—and for some strange reason, whenever I hear his songs, I think of you, Hermione."
Hermione's eyes widened in shock.
"Granted, I don't have a deep, sexy voice like his, but I try all the same."
The crowd laughed.
Ron turned to Hermione and sang, playing the guitar to a funk beat, with the Weird Singers singing backup vocals and playing keyboards,
"We got it together didn't we
Nobody but you and me
We got it together, baby
My first, my last, my everything
And the answer to all my dreams
You're my sun, my moon, my guiding star
My kind of wonderful, that's what you are."
Seven years ago, kismet threw three children together. A boy with black hair and a lightning bolt scar, a ginger-haired boy with dirt on his nose, and a bushy-haired girl who helped an absentminded boy search for his frog. It was only natural the ginger-haired boy and bushy-haired girl fell in love.
Ron knew that Hermione was The One. She knew him better than anyone else. Likewise, he knew her better than anyone else. She was perfect—to him, at least. And really, that was all that mattered to both of them. It wasn't that they were without fault; it was that they were perfect for each other.
"I know there's only, only one like you
There's no way they could have made two
You're all I'm living for
Your love I'll keep for evermore,
You're the first, my last, my everything."
Ron couldn't see himself with anyone else. Try as he might, he couldn't fathom a life without Hermione. She was unique—full of idiosyncrasies and quirks that no one else knew about. She wasn't just Hermione, the Perpetually Brilliant Student. She was warm, beautiful, witty, thoughtful, and the love of his life. She was his first love and would be his last love. It was true; she was everything to him.
Hermione attempted to fancy herself with someone completely different. It was an impossible feat, though. No matter what, the bloke that she imagined herself with would always grow ginger hair with long fringe and become the laidback yet ambitious in his own right. Before Ron, there had been no boys who she fancied. Not even Krum. The way she saw it, he would always be the boy she fancied—no, the boy she loved. She had to agree; he was her everything.
"In you I've found so many things
A love so new only you could bring
Can't you see if you,
You'll make me feel this way
You're like a first morning dew on a brand new day."
During the summer, and throughout the school year, even if the two had rows, they came from them rejuvenated. Everyday, they discovered things about each other, about themselves, and about what being alive was from a completely different perspective, it seemed. They awoke a side in each of them that had been slumbering for far too long.
"I see so many ways that I can love you
'Til the day I die
You're my reality, yet I'm lost in a dream
You're the first, my last, my everything."
After their declarations of love in the Common Room months ago, they realized that their relationship was nothing like their peers'. Save Harry and Ginny's, perhaps. It was like a dream.
"I know there's only, only one like you
There's no way they could have made two
Girl, you're my reality
But I'm lost in a dream
You're the first, you're the last, my everything."
After the song ended and the applause died down, Ron handed the guitar back to its rightful owner.
Ron stepped towards Hermione and took her hands in his. "Hermione Jane Granger—you know how much I love you."
Hermione laughed nervously, "Most of the time." She paused, "You know how much I love you too, don't you?"
He grinned, "Of course!" He paused, "It's a bit sudden, and I don't need an answer right away, but—I was wondering about something."
"Really. What's that?" She laced their fingers together properly, rather oblivious.
"You see, last weekend, I paid a visit to your parents, the Doctors Granger. I asked them something, after a trip to a store for a particular purchase."
She raised her eyebrows, "I'm intrigued. Go on."
He squeezed one of her hands and let it go. He removed a small velvet box from a pocket in his trousers and carefully held it. He started babbling, "We're young. Very young—and I realize that. But then again, my parents were the same age we are now. I asked your parents' permission to do this last weekend after I bought what's in this box—and…what I'm trying to ask you is…" He inhaled sharply, staring into her eyes, "Will you marry me?"
Her jaw dropped. She attempted to speak, but all that came out was, "Eep."
"Eep?" Ron asked anxiously. "Is that a good eep or a bad eep?
Hermione cleared her throat and said, "A good eep." She sighed happily, "Ron, what did you expect me to say to you? A bad eep!"
He beamed, "So, you're saying you—"
"YES! Of course, you prat! YES!" She leapt into his arms, squealing.
Automatically, he caught her in his arms and spun around giddily onstage. They hastily kissed through Hermione's tears of happiness. Cheers of approval and cries of, "I knew he'd do it!" resounded throughout the Great Hall.
Seamus, Dean, and the Weasley Twins paid Neville what was due for their latest bet on the exact details of the proposal. Lavender, Parvati, and Luna wondered aloud if they would be bridesmaids in the wedding. The Weasley parents found the Grangers and hugged them. Dumbledore and McGonagall smiled knowingly at each other. Harry and Ginny ran to the stage and jumped up and down with their newly engaged mates.
After the Triumvirate of Gryffindor Bravery plus Ginny extricated themselves from each other, Ron opened the box and showed Hermione the ring.
"Y'know, Ron, I'm glad you didn't show me the ring before you proposed. I hate watching films where the bloke shows the bird the ring before he proposes, because it seems like he's trying to bribe her to say yes." Hermione paused as Ron slipped the gold ring with a cluster diamonds that resembled a daisy onto her finger, "Although, I must say, you've got impeccable taste."
Ron kissed her soundly. He returned the box to his pocket and slipped an arm around her waist. He held her close to him, cradling her head with one of his hands. "Thank you, Miss Gr—I mean, future Mrs. Weasley."
Hermione twirled a lock of his red hair around her finger, she grinned cheekily.
"I really love the sound of that."
"Ron, do you know the implications of what's just occurred?" Hermione whispered almost frightfully as they left the Great Hall in the wee hours, along with the rest of the graduates and their families.
"What?" Ron squeezed her hand, then kissed it. He admired the ring that adorned her finger.
"Your mother will be planning a wedding. The first Weasley wedding since your parents'." Hermione sighed.
Ron's blue eyes widened, "Merlin, help us all."
Author's note: Review! You know you want to… Besides, how else will I know how you readers want the sequel to go?