okay, so just get mad at me now for not giving you any warning what so ever. but this is the last chapter of the story. i'm debating working on a sequel for it, but who knows. please review! i hope you like it!

Best Of Me

How Far We've Come

Troy sat on his bed looking down at a picture of him and Gabriella at the beach. They were both soaking wet, from their dripping hair to their damp swimsuits. Gabriella was leaning against Troy's chest, his arms wrapped around her tight. He smiled as he remembered how cold they had been when Taylor took the picture. The sun had begun to set, putting a chill in the air around them. It was one of the best nights of the summer. He and Gabriella, along with their closest friends, had decided to camp out on the beach hi honor of the end of summer. He put the photo back on his night stand, and stood up to straighten his tie.

It had been a year since Gabriella's mother had come back with Tony. A year since Gabriella stood in court testifying against her step-father. A year since Gabriella had emancipated herself from her mother, and making the Bolton's house her permanent residence.

Isabella left shortly after the trial ended. Troy knew that she hadn't even tried to make contact with Gabriella in the last year. He knew Gabriella missed her mother - anyone would, given what she had been through. But they made a decision a year ago to put all of the past behind them, and start over together. Troy still thought about that point in time a lot, though. He knew that he would never be able to forget the fear in Gabriella's eyes the night Tony attacked her. He had made a silent vow that night he would do everything he possibly could to make Gabriella safe and happy. Since that night, he got the chance to see Gabriella grow from that scared girl into an amazing and confident person who he was falling more and more in love with day as each day passed.

He was almost afraid of how much he loved her. It had been a year since they had been officially dating, and he still trembled at her touch. She was the most beautiful person Troy had ever met, and it scared him to think that he could lose her one day. He wasn't sure what he would do if Gabriella left him.

Troy shook those thoughts from his head. Today was an important day and he wouldn't let fear or anxieties bring him down.

He stepped out into the hall and knocked on the door across from his. He waited patiently outside her door for several minutes before he heard the knob begin to turn. His breath hitched as took in the sight in front of him. Gabriella stood in the doorway in a white slowing summer dress, her hair down in soft curls. Troy couldn't think of a time where she looked more beautiful.

"You look amazing, Brie." He said, finally being able to breathe.

"Why thank you. You look pretty dashing yourself." She responded in a sweet voice.

"You ready to go?" He asked holding out his arm for her to take.

"One sec." She said walking back into her room, coming back out with her white graduation cap on her head, and the gown hanging off her arm.

'Now I am." She smiled, taking his arm.

Troy listened as Gabriella perfectly addressed the class in her speech as Salutatorian. He already knew for the most part what she was going to say. He had helped her write the first part of the speech, but she wrote the last section on her own so she could add her thank you's and closing remarks.

"And lastly, I'd like to thank my friends and family. Jack and Marie, I cannot even begin to thank you two. You 're the closest thing to parents I have and I love you both very much. Chad, Zeke, Jason, Shar, Kelsi, Ryan. You are the best friends a girl can ask for. Thank you for all the memories over this past year. Tay, I don't think I can even say you're my friend. Over the last year we've become like sisters, and I hope we always stay that way. And your speech had better not be better than mine." Gabriella laughed at this, "And Troy. I don't even know how to begin to thank you, Through thick and thin, you've always been there, and I hope you know that I love you more than anything in this world." Gabriella paused for a moment as she blinked away tears in her eyes. "My fellow Wildcats of 2008, these are our last moments as high schoolers. But whatever may happen in the years to come, just remember we 're all in this together and you'll always have a family here in the halls of East High. I wish you all the best of luck. Congratulations guys!"

Gabriella stepped off the stage and made her way back to her seat in the first row of the auditorium. She watched as her best friend took the stage and began her speech.

One by one, the students of East High were called onto the stage and presented with their diplomas.

"Michael Ezekiel Baylor."

"Troy Alexander Bolton."

"Jason Matthew Cross."

"Chad Andrew Danforth."

"Ryan Jameson Evans"

"Sharpay Dorene Evans."

"Taylor Adrienna McKessie."

"Gabriella Anne Montez."

"Kelsi Michelle Neilson."

Troy waited as the last of the students were called across the stage, and then stood up and turned around to face the rest of his students. The students watching him copied their class president as he moved his tassel across the front of his cap. They all took off their hats in unison and threw them in the air.

Troy's cheeks hurt from all the smiling and pictures his parents were taking. He swore they must have taken a hundred of just him alone.

"Last one, Mom." He said through his teeth as his mom snapped a picture of him, Gabriella, Chad and Taylor.

"Oh stop your whining. I only get one chance to do this." She said as she snapped another picture.

"And I think you've got enough pictures Marie." Jack Bolton said putting a hand on his wife's shoulder.

"But Jack, I only-"

"I know, but I think it's time we let them go. I think they have a party waiting for them somewhere."

Troy gave his father a look of thanks as he began to unbutton his gown,

"Well, okay." Marie said putting her camera back in its bag. She walked over to where Troy and Gabriella were standing and pulled them both into a hug. "I just want you both to know I'm so proud of you."

Troy looked over at Gabriella over his mother's shoulder and rolled his eyes. Gabriella fought to hold back a laugh.

"Thank you Marie. That means a lot to me."

"Thanks, Mom."

"Now," Marie said pulling back from the hug. "You two go have fun."

"Okay, we'll see you either later or tomorrow or something. Most likely tomorrow." Troy said putting his arm around Gabriella as they both turned to walk away.

"Bye guys."

"Bye Marie. Bye Jack."

Troy's parents both said goodbye and watched as they began to walk away,

"Just don't have too much fun!" Marie Bolton called after them with the tears evident in her voice.

"They'll be fine, love." Jack said putting his arm around her and pulling her close. "I know. I don't doubt that. I just can't believe this day actually came."

Troy sat on his sleeping bag next to the campfire he and Chad had built not too long ago. The entire graduating class had rented spots to camp and he was sharing a spot with Gabriella, Chad, Taylor, Zeke, Sharpay, Ryan, Alese (Ryan's girlfriend), Kelsi, and Jason. Directly behind they had set up five tents for each of the couples to sleep in if they wanted to stay.

Gabriella sat in-between his legs, the glow of the fire illuminating her face. Troy moved his arms so that his arms were lying across her stomach, and he pulled her closer to him -if that was even possible, Gabriella looked up at him and smiled before looking back at the fire.

Looking around at his friends, Troy knew how lucky he really was. He had the best friends in the world and the most amazing girlfriend any guy was lucky to have. And the best part was they would all head off in the fall to the University of Albuquerque together.

"Well, I think we're headed to bed." Ryan said as he and Alese stood up.

"Now remember." Chad said with a smirk and wiggling his eyebrows. "We're all right next to you, so we can hear everything."

"Gross Chad. Brother. Stop." Sharpay said disgusted causing everyone around her to laugh.

"Actually I think I'm headed to bed as well." Taylor said getting up and walking over to her tent. Chad followed her a few moments later.

"Goodnight guys!" Gabriella called out. She was responded with a few muffled goodnights.

The remaining six of them around the fire decided to turn in as well, and each made their way to their own tent.

Once Gabriella was inside their tent, she lay down next to Troy who instinctively put his arms around her and lay his chin on her shoulder. Neither Bolton parented wanted to know how many nights in the last year Gabriella or Troy had snuck across the hallway into the other's room.

"I love you Brie." He whispered softly into her ear.

Gabriella shivered at his breath against her skin. "I love you too Troy."

"No, like I really love you." Troy said with a weak voice.

Gabriella turned around worried at the tone in Troy's voice, "Troy, are you okay?"

"I just don't want to ever lose you."

"You won't ever lose me Troy. I promise you." Gabriella said and placed a kiss on his lips.

"Marry me." Troy said after returning the kiss.

"What?" Gabriella responded in pure shock.

"Marry me Brie. Don't tell me we're too young or we have to think about college next year. I can't think of any reason why we shouldn't get married. I love you, and I know I'll always love you. We're moving into an apartment together this fall for school so we'll already be living together. It just makes sense. I can't live without you, Brie, I want you by my side forever, and I want forever to start now. I want to marry you."

Troy stared down at her as best he could in the dark tent. He could tell she was really thinking about this. His stomach began to twist in knots more and more the longer she waited to respond.

"Oh for God's sake Gabby. Just say yes already!" Taylor yelled from the tent next door. Laughter was heard from the other tents around them causing Troy and Gabriella to laugh too.

"So what do you say?" Troy asked as he pulled her closer to him.

"Yes!" She squealed and kissed his lips. They heard their friends respond in loud cheers, whooping, and hollering.

"I don't have a ring." Troy said laughing. "This was kind of an impulsive thing."

"I don't care. I love you and that's all I need."

"Well, you got to have something," Troy said as he slipped his Wildcat championship ring on to her finger. "I love you Gabriella Anne Montez."

"And I love you Troy Alexander Bolton. Always and forever."


Please Review!! Let me know if you want a sequel!