The entire school noticed that the Marauders were not around as much in the general school as much as they were seen in the Gryffindor common room or the library. Madame Pince seemed about to have an aneurysm from seeing the Marauders in such close proximity to her precious books, but they frankly did not care.
Nobody saw the Marauders after dinner on June twenty-seventh at all, not even Lily and her friends. The whole school was therefore extremely apprehensive about what would happen the next day, and had a perfect right to be. Seeing the Marauders was better than not seeing them, but knowing that they were up to something…
The next morning proved how right they were.
The castle had a very odd feeling about it on the morning of June twenty-eighth. The first thing the Hogwarts residents noticed when they woke up was that it was raining inside the castle, even though it was a perfectly clear day outside. The second thing they saw was that everyone who had passed through any sort of door was a random color, ranging from snow white to charcoal black, with every color of the spectrum in between—skin, hair, clothes, and all. Every time a person passed through a doorway, he changed color.
The unlucky fellows that needed desperately to use the bathroom were out of luck. It became very apparent that certain someones—and everyone knew who had done it—had put Impervious Charms on all of the toilets.
The school turned completely pitch black at irregular times, and no number of Lumos charms could penetrate the darkness; not even Dumbledore could bring light to the school.
Conversations between students were also very interesting, as the food had apparently been charmed. One conversation went something like this:
"Who –raspberry- bloody hell did this?"
"-Foghorn- dunno, but –foghorn- think it's really annoying."
"-Foghorn- bet it was –raspberry- Marauders. It is their last year at Hogwarts, after all."
"But this is annoying! Not to mention that –foghorn-'m pink! Seriously!"
"This is –belch- brilliant prank, though. –Raspberry- Marauders have to have –belch- lot of guts to do all this!"
Certain areas on the floor seemed to be charmed so that if some unfortunate person stepped on them, they would be frozen there for a good five minutes, and nothing and nobody could move them.
If anyone was in one spot for more than two minutes—excluding mealtimes, which seemed to be extended to half an hour—they would turn into a chicken, to the amusement of many. Those who thought that it would be safe to stand in one spot to evade the pranks were out of luck.
The killer for many of the students was that no matter how hard they tried, they could not get outside. As it was a very beautiful day, many people were irritated the most by this.
So, all in all, Hogwarts was in an official state of chaos. Every single one of the hundreds of Hogwarts residents with half a brain cell knew who had done it, but none of the teachers but McGonagall tried to do anything about it.
She held the Marauders back after lunch, and began ranting until a minute and a half had gone by. Then Sirius said, "Minnie, we might want to move around –belch- bit, because we're going to turn into chickens in about," he checked his watch, "twenty seconds."
McGonagall gave a roar of rage and walked out of the Great Hall and up the spiral staircase. The Marauders followed her.
"Minerva," Dumbledore said up in his office, "Did you really expect them to leave Hogwarts without leaving their mark on –raspberry- school?"
"No, but this…"
Dumbledore attempted to reason with her—"It is true that they have never done something on this grand of –belch- scale, but –foghorn- admit that -foghorn- was not surprised when this happened."
"At least let –foghorn- give…"
"-foghorn- will not allow you to take any points from Gryffindor house, and –foghorn- will not allow you to give –raspberry- Marauders detention." Here five jaws hit the floor.
"You're…not…serious, Professor?" James asked, astonished.
"-foghorn- am perfectly serious, Mr Potter," the Headmaster said cheerfully, "Every graduating class leaves something for them to be remembered by, and yours is just quite –belch- bit more spectacular than others'." McGonagall looked livid.
Dumbledore ignored her, and cheerfully added, "And –foghorn- think that one hundred points shall be awarded to Gryffindor house for -raspberry- most spectacular prank Hogwarts has ever seen, and quite possibly ever will see."
The Marauders looked as if Christmas had come six months early, but the Gryffindor Head had a different opinion. "How can you encourage them?" she asked Dumbledore angrily.
"Minerva, this will be –raspberry- last prank that they will ever pull at Hogwarts," he explained patiently, "and we both know that they will have to grow up far too quickly once they graduate."
"There are no 'buts', -foghorn- have awarded Gryffindor –raspberry- points, and there is nothing you can do about it," he turned to the Marauders for one last question before he dismissed them, "-foghorn-'m assuming that this will wear off by tomorrow?"
The next morning, Dumbledore announced that the Leaving Feast would be at five-thirty that evening, which would be followed by the seventh years' graduation. "After that," he added, "there will be a party of sorts in here, which everyone is invited to. That should be at around nine o'clock. I believe that our Head Girl and Boy will be speaking at that," they nodded, "So… early feast, late party, ceremony in between! If you want to attend the graduation ceremony, please inform your Head of House."
As the chatter built up after the Headmaster's announcement, Frank asked James, "What are you going to say in your speeches?"
"Oh, this and that."
The last day of Hogwarts life for the Marauders was rather solemn. After using all morning and a big chunk of the afternoon to clean out their dorm of anything they may have forgotten, they sat under their favorite tree by the lake.
"We're never going to be able to sit here again," Sirius commented, "We'll be off in the real world, doing whatever adults do all day. We won't have our special tree. We marked it, remember?" He traced an engraving on the middle of the trunk, not glaringly obvious, but not exactly subtle either, that read:
JP, SB, RL, PP
Our Friendship Will Never Die"
James chuckled, "We were so innocent in first year…"
"Our lives are going to be so different once we're out of school," Remus said, "I mean, you guys will have lives, and paying jobs. But me…" he shook his head and put it in his hands, "I don't know what I'm going to do…"
"Remus, you'll be fine," Peter assured his friend, "We'll always be here for you."
It took the other three Marauders a moment to realize that tears were streaming down Remus' face. He had cried three times in the time that they had known him—when they discovered his secret in second year, when they became Animagi for him in fifth, and earlier that year with Frank. It took them another moment to realize that they were tears of happiness.
"You have no idea how much you three mean to me," he said, "You, and Lily, and Sarah, and Laurie…I don't know what I'd do without you."
The other the Marauder embraced Remus in a group hug. "Remus, we'll never leave you," Sirius promised, "We may not be able to emphasize completely, but we can come damn close."
They sat under their tree until the Feast began, when they regretfully walked back up to the castle, leaving many happy memories behind.
"How many did Dumbledore say were coming?" Lily asked James for at least the hundredth time.
"He said that there were a hundred coming from outside of Hogwarts, and so far fifty coming from inside. So, about a hundred and fifty."
"Have we got the chairs set up?" she continued to fret.
"We're going to eat dinner in a twenty-minute span, make sure everything's set up correctly by the lake, then get the seventh years into their common rooms to change and be outside by seven o'clock. Everyone will be there by seven-thirty."
Lily nodded, finally confident that all would go smoothly. They left their friends a few minutes later to make sure everything was in order outside. By the time six o'clock rolled around, the two head students were satisfied that everything was in order, and walked back into the Great Hall and the feasting students. "All seventh years need to be outside in our appointed spot by seven o'clock. Any younger students who wish to attend our graduation should have already told their Head of House, but in case you haven't please come and tell James immediately," Lily announced in a Sonorified voice. "If you have any questions, please ask James within the next ten minutes."
Most of the seventh year girls immediately got up and left for their separate dormitories, Lily included. James stayed behind to accept any last minute attendees and questions, and gave the number of extras to Dumbledore. He promised that the appropriate number of chairs would be set up.
Lily was outside and waiting for the rest of her classmates fifteen minutes before seven. Many of the boys were already situated, wearing varying styles of dress robes. James was the last boy to come outside. It was obvious that he had spent quite a while trying to gel his hair down, but it was no use.
"All right, do you all have the little boats we told you to order from Hogsmeade?" They all nodded and held them up. "Excellent—Dumbledore will supply candles."
The next half-hour was spent watching the family and friends come in from Hogsmeade. All of the teachers and some of the younger students showed up as well. Dumbledore brought them candles right before seven-thirty, so they had just enough time to light them before Dumbledore began speaking at the front of the crowd.
"Thank you for coming here today," he said to them, "This is one of the most independent classes that I have ever known. To top it of, the class of 1978 also includes four of the best pranksters Hogwarts has ever seen—the Marauders." There was some muttering from those assembled, and the Headmaster smiled. "I see that your reputation precedes you," he said to the four, who grinned and waved at the group.
"On a slightly related note, this class also includes James Potter and Lily Evans." Now, the crowd muttered even more. "And I will tell you that they are just as functional as they were before Christmas, and remain our Head Boy and Girl."
McGonagall then stood up and took over for a moment. "In being the Marauders' Head of House for the past seven years and each of these students' Transfiguration professor, I'll say that almost all of the time, they were quite a handful. The Marauders are, however, four of the closest friends that I have ever taught. They've gone through more hardships than I think any other group of friends has, yet I've never seen anyone as tight-knit as they are. This entire class is so close together in comparison to others. It seems that a bit of good has come out of this war after all."
Dumbledore took the stage again, and said, "This class, after everything they have been through together, picked a very fitting motto—"We must cry in order to grow, we must fail in order to know. Sometimes our vision only clears after our eyes are washed away with tears." Miss Evans had the bright idea for each seventh year to write the names of one or more people that they have loved and lost on a slip of paper, put it on a boat with a candle atop it, and send it across the lake here. This, I think, commemorates the dead rather fitfully."
The seventh years, taking the cue, began walking in the gap between the chairs, holding the small boats with the lit candles on them. The watching crowd was silent in reverence for the young adults who had seen far too much destruction in their lives—most knew that almost all of them had put at least one close family member or friend down on the small, rolled up piece of paper that held so much significance.
Once this solemn ceremony was over and the boats were slowly drifting across the lake, the students sat down in the forty saved chairs at the front.
"I will now call up the students in alphabetical order to come receive their Hogwarts diplomas. Please hold your applause until the final name is called," Dumbledore requested, "Rachelle Allen."
The pretty Hufflepuff walked up with her father to the Heads. Shaking their hands, she took her diploma and stood to the right of them. Her father took his seat next to someone who looked like her little brother.
When Sirius walked up, most expected him to go alone; therefore, they were all surprised when he walked up with two very alive and very happy parents that were not his.
Remus Lupin smiled as his parents walked up with one of his best friends. It had been his idea to ask his parents to go up with James and Sirius so they did not have to go alone…the Lupins were smiling as Sirius took his place next to Rachelle.
When Lily's name was called, she walked up proudly with Mr and Mrs Kellison. Despite Dumbledore's request, the crowd cheered loudly for her as she took her diploma. Lily blushed a bit but stood in front of Sirius and next to Heather.
Many people found it sad that at least half of the class did not go up with both of their own parents, or even with one. Remus was one of the lucky few who had both parents available.
Those who knew were crying with happiness for him, and the heads gave him warm smiles as he shook their hands. When he stood next to Frank, he saw his parents and older sister beam at him tearfully from the crowd.
James walked up with the Lupins as well, and he also received smiles from the Heads and cheers from the crowd. He grinned cheekily at them and stood next to Remus.
After the last two students had gone—Laurie with her mother and a Slytherin girl alone—Dumbledore spread his hands wide towards the forty proudly standing adults. "I give you," he said, eyes twinkling, "the Hogwarts class of 1978!"
The crowd cheered for at lest two or three minutes. During this time, filled with so much meaning, the graduates stood proudly in front of them, heads held high. They knew that they had been strong enough to survive Hogwarts, and were now brave enough to set foot into an unreliable and completely foreign world that none of the adults wanted them to see.
After the cheering finally died down, Dumbledore called for pictures. Those who had brought cameras immediately took them out and began snapping pictures of the forty graduates and five heads together.
Eventually they broke up into groups. The Lupins and Pettigrews took multiple pictures of the Marauders, and the Kellisons and Mrs Victonia of the girls. Then the four families all took pictures of the seven together in various poses—Sirius had to be yelled at for crossing his eyes in every picture.
Eventually the girls dispersed to find their friends from Hufflepuff and Ravenclaw, and Frank got some pictures with the Marauders as well.
At nine o'clock, the large group began walking up to the castle in the gathering twilight. Once the seventh years and their parents reached the Great Hall, the Muggles looking around in awe, they saw that the younger students were already there. Dumbledore smiled and said, "Party your hearts out!"
Everyone cheered and happily dug into the supplied food—apparently they had incredible metabolism.
At around nine-thirty, after mingling quite a bit and talking with their friends, James and Lily walked up to where the staff table normally was. The Hall was quiet in seconds.
"It's great to have so much power like that," James commented, "Makes me feel like Minnie though." Many students laughed.
"Huzzah for Gryffindor!" Sirius yelled out randomly. Everybody but the Slytherins laughed.
"Yes, I think our winning the House Cup by two hundred points merits recognition," James acknowledged. "You do realize that after we leave tomorrow, there won't be any Marauders at Hogwarts. And there won't be the big Potter-Evans feuds like there were for six and a half years; those are long gone." Laughter.
"I want to say something that dear Minnie has blackmailed me and my friends into keeping quiet about," James said, his eyes twinkling and the corners of his mouth tugging up into a smile. "I'm assuming all you students remember April first, the teddy bear mayhem day…" All of the students nodded, not quick to forget that day. "When Professor Dumbledore held us back after lunch, he accidentally disclosed a tidbit of information that totally goes against everything that you thought you knew about dear Minnie. "You see, she was…"
"Potter!" McGonagall called out from the crowd, red-faced, but nothing could stop him.
"…a prankster back in the day."
The students' reaction was priceless—there was no other way to describe it. Eyes wide as galleons and jaws hitting the floor, every student and alumni of Hogwarts turned to stare at the Transfiguration professor. She glared murderously at James, who grinned and waited for the chatter to finally die down. Then he started off their speech…
"I don't know if you all realize how important Hogwarts is to your lives," he said, becoming rather serious, his eyes scanning the crowd. "I think you all may take this for granted. It's very important that you all learn exactly how important it is to your lives some time during your Hogwarts career.
"Some people have known that they were lucky from the beginning, when they got their letter," James continued, "Others have known from the day they were born that they would be coming here. I'm guilty of that myself," he chuckled, "But I've definitely come to appreciate Hogwarts, and life in general, a lot more now, and so has Lily." Everyone was now looking at them expectantly, and they both laughed.
"You know where this is going, don't you?" Lily asked, grinning. They nodded sheepishly. "Well, you're actually partway right, but that's not our entire speech. We'll bore our fellow Gryffindors to death."
The Gryffindors laughed. "So…do we want the boring or interesting stuff first?"
He received a mixed answer. "All right…you!" he pointed at none other than Ludo Bagman, who stared at him, wide-eyed, "Which do you want?"
"Why don't we do the boring stuff first, so it can end on an interesting note?" James beamed at him.
"I like your logic."
"So, the boring stuff first…Hogwarts is more of a privilege than a given thing," Lily said, scanning the crowd. "You have no idea how lucky you are to be here at, possibly, the most prestigious school of magic in the world. Most people don't have that privilege. Some people, myself included, were incredibly surprised when they got their letter."
"Do not take anything for granted," James continued where Lily had left off, "Food, shelter, a loving family, your friends even…I know someone who never had a true friend before he came to Hogwarts. No single person to confide with, no one to whisper with at three in the morning when your mum's screaming at you to go to sleep…"
"We voted on our class motto—'We must cry in order to grow, we must fail in order to know. Sometimes our vision only clears after our eyes are washed away with tears'—with thirty people for it. The other top two—"Dancing to the beat of our own drums' and 'Friends are the angels that pick us up when our wings don't quite remember how to fly'—split the other ten votes between them."
"I think all three of these mottoes would be appropriate. "We're definitely a bit more strange—insane, if you will—than other classes. But, I mean, we Marauders are a part of it—what did you expect?" Laughter.
"McGonagall said outside that we are a tight-knit class. I agree with her—for the most part anyway. Three-quarters of us are tight-knit, but the other quarter decided to be far too distant to actually become friends." He glanced over at the Slytherins, "I guess some feuds can never be broken. But if they could, maybe this war would finally be over. And who doesn't want that?"
Lily waited a moment to let it sink in before saying, "I think that sufficiently covers the 'boring' part, don't you think?" An emphatic "Yes!" answered her question. "Right. So, I guess this is the part you've been waiting for since—what?—January?" The students nodded, "Well, we're not going to elaborate much on the particulars. I'm sure many of you already know what happened." Her eyes scanned over the Gryffindors, but came to rest on particular Slytherin adults. "We wouldn't want to bore you."
They then went into an overview of what happened. Most of the assembled people were an excellent audience—gasping at all the right places, many of the females crying…many of the Slytherins also looked very shocked. Maybe we've turned some of them to the good side…
"If you want more details, you're out of luck," Lily said after they had finished their narrative, "Again, I believe that we'd be boring too many people." Again, her eyes flashed to the Slytherins.
"We were incredibly lucky that we got out of that alive and sane. I think that if Dumbledore had waited another week, I would have cracked. It was pure luck that we're able to recount these events to you today.
"But…not everyone has luck like we do. Some people don't have much luck at all." Her eyes traveled over the crowd, lingering a second on Remus. "For those people who probably wouldn't survive our ordeal, I want to stop it from ever happening again. I want to make a difference."
Lily began to step off of into the crowd, which was cheering so loudly that nothing else could be heard. James, however, grabbed Lily's hand and spun her around. Before she could ask what he was doing, he had gotten down in front of her and silently opened a small velvet box.
Lily's eyes were as wide as galleons. The audience, not quite sure what was going on, had fallen silent. Then, Lily screamed, pulled James up, and kissed him like there was no tomorrow.
When the crowd finally got a glance of the box that James was still holding, and what was inside of it, they again started to cheer—to cheer for the two adults that were so obviously in love, that had been through so much, and that would, from that point on, spend their lives together.
What none of them knew was how short these two lives would be, and how much they would change the world…
In case you're wondering about the food, they spiked it so that every time somone would have said the word "a" they would belch, "the" they would blow a raspberry, and either "I" or "me" would sound like a foghorn.