AN: Written for my dearest Emily (WeasleyForMe) who has finally graduated after an eternity of studying and thesis writing. I hope the day is wonderful. Enjoy your free time to catch up on fics while you can!

Disclaimer: Title and lyrics are from the song Just Wave Hello, performed by Charlotte Church.

Just Wave Hello

This is the hour of destiny; This is the moment of goodbye

She barely knows any of the students around her. There's Ginny of course, and Dean Thomas who came back, as well as a few others, but overall the experience lacks in familiarity compared to how she always imagined it.

Her parents are there at the Gryffindor table, but beside them are not only the Weasley family, but Harry and Ron as well. Lazy sods who couldn't bother returning for their last year. For once she's in the limelight by herself.

Looking out at friends and family carries a feeling that is bittersweet as she acknowledges the one redhead missing from the table and the one whose smile is just that much smaller. She knows many of the students standing next to her face similar thoughts. Worse still, there are the students who should be celebrating their graduation but aren't. Instead their names are read from a list into the hushed hall before the proceedings begin.

They are all introduced; this first class to graduate into a world of peace, and the applause is tremendous. Speeches are given by the new headmaster about courage, the importance of education, and the paths they'll face as they go out into the world. They are left with a quote of unknown origin that will guide her decisions for the rest of her life.

The future lies before you
Like a field of driven snow,
Be careful how you tread it,
For every step will show.

From behind them at the teachers table she can hear Hagrid sobbing and blowing his nose loudly. He was never good at saying goodbye and she's reminded of Norbert and Aragog and even those damned Blast-Ended Screwts and a smile comes to her lips. Thoughts of the childhood they were forced to leave behind years ago when the world became so cold. How strange that as they move out into that adult world they were supposed to be protected from, it lacks all that made it scary in the first place.

Maturity and selflessness were learned by these students much sooner than they could have ever expected. The majority of them have seen the darkness of the world and stood to find against it. Now, on the precipice of the unknown of beginning their lives, it almost seems easy.

These people around her will make a profound impact on the world, she thinks. More so than any class before, whose lives had been lived under the shadows of veiled threats that seemed too far to ever reach home. And more so than those to come, raised and taught in a world where Defense Against the Dark Arts really is theory based; something to learn for the sake of learning; not because they could need it at any minute.

The banners in the hall change, shifting from the assorted house colors to the Hogwarts crest. There are no more rubies to add to the house glass. No more rivalry with Slytherin house. Now they are all as one and perhaps that is the clearest symbol of their movement outside of these protective walls.

They file out of the Great Hall through one of the side doors and retrace the steps that carried them first into this place of wonder and mystery, knowledge and understanding.

There is no thestral drawn carriage awaiting them but instead the familiar face of Hagrid who has managed to slip out ahead of them. She can still recall his voice beckoning the first years to him on that dark night.

Further on in the distance is the Black Lake, dozens of lantern lit boats aligned on its shore. So simple and poetic a gesture, to follow through to the end, they must return to the beginning. To a time when twelve inch essays and charms practice were the biggest of their worries. When winning the House Cup was the most important challenge, and losing points their greatest fear. When they were children who still thought they'd be unable to make a mark in an adults world.

Those times seem so long ago as they climb into the boats, more worried now about how they can possibly carry them safely; their collective weight nearly twice what it was when they last made the journey.

Across the water they will be greeted by their professors for what is likely the last time, and by their parents for the first time as equals.

The dawn is rising on a new day; Time for us to go

The shadows fall and quickly fade away; Time to wave hello