Looks are Deceiving

The Final Chapter

Graduation. Who knew on word could mean so much? She looked at herself in the large mirror. The white of her cap and gown just made her skin look even tanner than usual. The red tassel on her cap represented the start of the rest of her life.

"You'll do beautifully, Gabs." Taylor reassured her best friend, her reflection looking back at her from behind Gabriella. Gabriella had earned the title of Valedictorian. This didn't come as a surprise to many, but everyone knew she deserved it.

"I just know I'm going to screw up something. I'll probably trip while I'm up on stage. Oh jeez…" she rambled as she sat down in a chair.

"Honestly, Gabriella! Who cares? I bet you a hundred dollars that nobody else in the audience would have the courage to do what you are going to do…and I am completely confident that you won't mess up a thing." Taylor said. Gabriella looked up at her.

Gabriella leapt out of the chair and flung her arms around Taylor, hugging her tightly.

"That was one hell of a pep talk." Gabriella said.

Taylor and Gabriella laughed before she finally released Taylor, hearing her name being called.

"Gabriella! Bolton wants you!" Some girl called out. She shook her head as she walked out to see Troy leaning against the wall across the hallway. He had yet to put his cap and gown on.

"What do you want, Bolton?" Gabriella asked, putting a hand on her hip for added effect.

"Just wanted to come wish my girlfriend good luck. Do you know where she'd be?" he asked.

"Nope." She replied, turning around and reaching for the doorknob.

She laughed loudly as he took her hand and turned her around to face him.

"I think I found her." He said quietly, leaning closer to her.

She giggled before his lips were on hers. He gently pushed her against the wall his arms on either side of her on the wall, supporting himself.

He pulled back, needing air. "You look sexy in that gown, Miss Montez." He said smirking.

She rolled her eyes, but smiled.

"I better go. I'll see you up on stage." He said, kissing her once more.

"What if I mess up?" she asked, her doubts kicking in again.

"You won't. If you feel uncomfortable then…just look right at me and no-one else. Like when we did callbacks, okay?" he said gently.

She nodded, slightly nervously.

"You'll do fine, Brie." He reassured her. He kissed her forehead softly before walking off to change.

Gabriella walked back into the room and found Taylor sitting with Kelsey. (A/N: I watched HSM2 last night…and saw that 'Kelsey' is spelled with an '-ey' not an '-i'.)

"Hey Gabs!" Kelsey greeted.

"Hey Kels." Gabriella replied. Before Gabriella even had a chance to sit down with them…

"Miss Montez…we need you up on stage now. We need to make sure the mic is working and you need to go through your speech once." Ms. Darbus said.

"Good luck, Gabs." Taylor and Kelsey said at the same time, smiling.

"Thanks." Gabriella replied.

She followed Ms. Darbus onto the stage where she told Gabriella to stand at the podium so that they could get the lighting right.

"Okay, Miss Montez…the lights are set, let's run through your speech." Ms. Darbus said.

Gabriella nodded as she began…"Graduation is such a powerful word. It's the start of another adventure, the start of the rest of our lives…."

-

"It is my pleasure, to present you with this year's valedictorian. Miss Gabriella Montez." Principal Matsui said, introducing her. This was her cue. As she stood up, a thunderous applause was started as she reached the podium.

She heard several. "Go Gabs!" Taylor and Sharpay…definitely. She thought as she heard them. She heard a "Go Gabbers! It's your birthday!" quickly followed by an "Ouch!" Chad. She thought. "Montez is looking hot tonight!" she also heard. Troy. She thought.

She reached the podium. "I didn't trip. That's a good start." She whispered. She heard people laughing, realizing that she was indeed right in front of the microphone.

She looked at Troy who had a smile on his face. She smiled back. He winked at her before she looked down at the paper in front of. She took a deep breath and began…

-

"Congratulations baby girl!" Gabriella's mom said, scooping her up in a huge hug.

"Thank you mom." Gabriella replied.

"Gabriella!" someone called. She looked around a spotted Chad, waving for her to come over.

After hugging her aunt and uncle who had come to watch her graduate, Gabriella's mom pushed her lightly towards Chad's direction.

She walked over, expertly weaving through the huge crowd of people to reach him.

"Guess what Gabbers?!" Chad asked quickly.

"What Chad?!" she asked energetically.

"WE'RE COLLEGE PEOPLE NOW!" he exclaimed. She nearly fell over in laughter by his over excited-ness.

"I'm gonna go change before I trip over myself." Gabriella said, making her way to the girls' locker room where she could change. She didn't really 'change'. She just slipped the cap and gown off; she had her clothes on underneath it.

She walked out after grabbing her purse, but didn't get very far before Troy kissed her.

(A/N: A graduation wouldn't be a graduation without someone making out afterwards. :D)

The kiss started soft and gentle but with every second that passed, it turned more passionate. Troy had long since moved on to her neck, kissing her there before kissing her again on her lips before resting his forehead against hers.

"I love you." He said.

"I love you too, Troy Bolton." She said, smiling.

They shared another kiss, but this one was slow and gentle.

Gabriella looked into his eyes moments later and saw that there was a sparkle in his eyes. She smiled, knowing that she would be with Troy for the rest of her life…no matter what.

-

Later that very night, Gabriella was sitting on her bed, looking down at the newspaper article that she cut out.

Her eyes filled with tears, just looking at Sam's picture on it. The title read 'Local man accused of shooting innocent man found guilty'. She traced the picture with her fingers lightly…knowing that he was always with her, and he always would be.


And...it's done. I want to thank all of my readers for this story. But a HUGE thank you goes out to all of the people who have reviewed this story! I GOT OVER 100 REVIEWS! I'm absolutely ECSTATIC about that. I couldn't be more happy about it!!!