This is the final installment of this story. Thank you so so much for all of your lovely feedback, and I am eternally grateful to those of you who stuck by it until the end. (:
you belong with me,
not swallowed in the sea
yeah, you belong with me,
not swallowed in the sea
Finn's at her house for the last two weeks of summer, so he's there when their school letters arrive the week before school starts back up.
"This came for you, Princess," her daddy says, poking his head out onto the front porch where she and Finn are sitting. He holds the letter out, and she reaches up to grab it.
"For you, too, Finn," he adds, producing another letter from his coat pocket.
She weighs her letter in her hand. "This is the last time we'll get one of these," she says mournfully.
"Open it," her daddy says.
She bites her lip, then rips through the envelope. A new, shiny badge with the letters HG falls into her palm. She gapes at it.
Her daddy squeals. "Hiram! Get out here! Our baby girl is Head Girl!" Her daddy engulfs her in a hug, and then her dad comes out, too, and they both start jumping up and down and screaming for the good part of fifteen minutes. Eventually, after taking turns squeezing her, they head back inside to floo her grandmother and tell her the good news.
She turns to Finn. He's grinning widely at her. "Congrats, babe."
She ducks her head. "I did it," she says quietly.
He reaches over and engulfs her into a hug, and she breathes in the scent of him. He smells like summer really, like freshly mown grass and clean crisp air, but there's also something distinctly Finn about it.
"I am so proud of you," he says quietly.
She smiles. "Open yours!" she squeals. "You haven't even touched yours, Finn."
He sighs, extracting himself from her, and he takes the letter she holds out to him. He glances at her, then slides it open.
He gapes for a minute, then grins.
"What?" she asks eagerly.
"I made Quidditch Captain."
She squeals, tackling him, peppering his face with kisses. "Now I'm the one who's proud of you."
He laughs, hugging her to him and kissing her on the nose. "This is going to be a great last year," he tells her.
She smiles, soft and slow. "Yeah," she murmurs. "It really is."
Their compartment is a little crowded, but Rachel doesn't mind. She sits partially on Finn's lap, Tina and Artie on her right. Quinn and Puck are sitting on the seat across from them along with Mercedes, Kurt, and Blaine. Rachel feels like this what seventh year is supposed to feel like – having a good time with her friends.
"So, I hear you got Head Girl," Kurt says with a smirk.
She ducks her head shyly, but Finn says, "She sure as hell did."
"Finn!" She whacks him on the chest lightly, but he only laughs.
"Oh, that's awesome," Blaine says, "because I'm Head Boy!" He winks. "Looks like we'll be working quite closely together this year."
Rachel laughs, and she really couldn't have picked a better person to work with. Blaine was over at the Hudson-Hummel household almost as much as she was this summer, so she feels quite comfortable with him.
"Heard you made Captain," Noah says to Finn. "Nice one. When do practices start?"
Rachel rolls her eyes. "Boys and their Quidditch," she grumbles.
"You're coming to every match, right?" Finn asks.
"Haven't I gone to every one since first year?" she asks, smirking.
"Yeah, but this year you're my girlfriend. You'll have to go all out."
"You want me to make a Team Finn shirt or something?" she asks, laughing. "With a giant scarlet lion on the front, but your face is on the lion instead?"
"Make Quinnie one here while you're at it," Noah smirks.
"Oh, no," Quinn says. "Gotta support my Ravenclaw blue."
She and Blaine hi-five, while Artie adds in, "Preach!"
Puck extracts his arm from around her shoulders and scoffs. "Fine then. I see how it is."
"About time," Quinn teases.
Laughter fills the compartment, Mercedes laughing loudest of all. Rachel's not even back at the castle yet, but she already feels like she's home.
"What do you want to do with the rest of your life?" Rachel asks Finn quietly. They're the last two in the common room at three in the morning on a Friday night. His head is in her lap, and she's playing with his hair idly, staring into the flames. "I mean, we had those career counseling sessions in fifth year, but I have no idea what your plans are. And if… whether or not maybe I… would fit into them."
He sits up slowly. He pauses, then says, "I think I want to be an Auror. Like my dad."
She smiles, looking down at her lap. "I thought you'd say that."
"What about you?" he asks quietly, turning to look at her. "What do you want to do?"
"I think I want to be a journalist," she says. "You know, work for the Daily Prophet. Maybe do some feature stories." She shrugs. "I know, it's stupid—"
He presses his lips to hers, cupping her cheek. She melts into him, sighing. He breaks the kiss, but he keeps his forehead pressed against hers. "It's not stupid," he tells her quietly. "You'll be brilliant, Rach. I know it."
"Thank you," she murmurs.
"And, since we both have plans to work in London… I was thinking…" He looks down.
"Yes?" she asks, staring at him expectantly.
"Maybe you'd be interested in getting a flat with me?" He peeks up at her from underneath his eyelashes. "You know, after we're done here."
"You mean, live with you?" she asks.
He hesitates, then nods.
She throws her arms around him, and he laughs, trying to keep from toppling over. "Yes," she sighs.
He kisses her ear. "I love you, Rachel."
She pulls back, looking him in the eye. "I love you, too, Finn."
He smiles, and then he yawns. "C'mon, sleepy," she says, standing up and grabbing his hand. "Time for bed."
"Can't we just sleep down here?" he asks.
"No," she says, "we can't, because I'm Head Girl, and what kind of example would that set?"
He sighs, but he stands, letting her lead him to the staircases.
"Good night," she says sweetly.
He kisses her in reply.
Her dreams are filled with thoughts of London and Finn and their future, and she has the best sleep she's had in a while.
Finn spends Christmas Break with her and her dads, and, even though she's Jewish, she talks her fathers into having a small Christmas celebration. They love Finn and they know he makes her happy, so they agree.
Plus, Finn's face on Christmas morning is totally priceless.
"But… there's presents," he says slowly.
"I know!" she squeals. "Isn't it great?"
He stares at her. "I thought you guys did the eight days of Jew Christmas instead?"
"It's called Hanukkah," she laughs, "and yes, we do. But this year's special, because you're here."
He grins, grabbing her and pulling her into his lap, ignoring her when she squeals. "I love you," he says, pressing a kiss to her neck, "I love you." He kisses her cheek. "I love you." He presses his lips against hers, and she grins.
"I love you, too," she whispers. "Now open your presents!"
He doesn't need telling twice.
She doesn't know how it happens, but before she knows it, it's April. She throws herself into her studies, because the NEWTs are fast approaching, but somehow Finn manages to coax her out of the Gryffindor Tower on a particularly nice Saturday afternoon.
"Just a few hours," he tells her when she protests. "Please, Rach? For me?"
She sighs but she agrees.
Two hours later she's out by the lake with Finn, leaning against his legs under the willow tree. They're just talking about nothing, and it's days like these that she loves the most.
"Well, if it ain't the two lovebirds."
Rachel looks up to see Karofsky and Azimio of all people heading their way, identical smirks on their faces.
"Come for a nice romantic stroll?" Finn asks, standing up, grabbing Rachel's hand to help her up as well.
"Funny," Karofsky spits out. "'Specially coming from you."
"And why is that funny?" Rachel asks coldly.
"You do know he's using you, right?" Azimio asks. "Why would Mr. Quidditch Star, the golden boy, ever be seriously interested in you?"
"Finn loves me," she says defiantly, but her voice quivers.
Karofsky smirks. "Whatever you say, freak."
Before Rachel has time to react, Finn springs forward and punches Karofsky in the mouth. She grabs his arm as he goes in for a second punch, and Karofsky glares, clutching his swollen lip.
"Don't you ever talk to her that way again," Finn says, his voice shaking with anger.
"Let's go," Azimio mutters, grabbing Karofsky's arm and shoving him back up the lawn.
"You didn't have to do that," Rachel says quietly, pushing her hair behind her ear.
"Yeah, I did," he insists. "Didn't you hear what they were saying, Rach? No one's aloud to talk to you like that."
"Well, it was kind of hot to see you defending my honor." She smirks, stepping closer to wrap her arms around his neck.
He raises his eyebrows. "You liked that?"
"Very much," she whispers. He leans down to cover her mouth with his, one hand tangling in her hair and the other resting on the small of her back.
She doesn't end up studying that day. She really doesn't mind.
"Miss Berry, Mr. Anderson, you both of completed your duties quite sufficiently this year," Professor McGonagall says, eyeing them both. "You've represented the school quite well."
Rachel and Blaine share a smile. "Thank you, Professor," they chorus.
"And your plans for after graduation?" she asks.
"I'm thinking about pursuing a career as a Healer," Blaine says. "I was just accepted into the Academy, so I start the training in July." He shrugs. "I just… I like helping people."
Professor McGonagall nods in approval. "And you, Miss Berry?"
"I applied for an internship at the Daily Prophet this summer, and I actually just got an owl at breakfast this morning saying I got in."
Professor McGonagall's expression doesn't change, but she says, "Congratulations to you both. Have you figured out what you're planning to do in regards to the final speech at the graduation ceremony?"
She and Blaine exchange another look.
"Blaine should give it," Rachel blurts.
Both the professor and Blaine look at her in surprise.
She gulps. "I mean, I have a solo, in frog choir, so I just figured that… this could be Blaine's last hurrah, since that'll be mine."
Professor McGonagall turns to Blaine. "Is that alright with you, Mr. Anderson?"
He looks at Rachel. "Yeah, I mean… Rachel, thank you."
She smiles. "I couldn't imagine anything better."
Graduation day is a blur. Rachel sings her solo, Blaine gives his speech, she gets hugs from people she barely talked to, and she even shares a brief smile with Karofsky. Tina cries about a million tears, asking her ten times to make sure they keep in touch and clinging to Artie hysterically. Kurt hugs her so tightly she can hardly breathe, and she and Blaine shake hands.
She makes sure to congratulate Sam and Santana, even though she never really got to know Santana that well. Mercedes hugs her five times in total, and she even earns a hug from Quinn along with a promise to keep in touch. She also manages to tackle Noah and convince him to hug her back.
"You're alright, Berry," he smirks when she finally lets go of him.
He clears his throat. "Just take care of my boy, alright?"
"Of course," she says. Then, much to his dismay, she hugs him again.
"Hey, where's my hug?" She lets go of Noah to throw herself at Finn instead, and he laughs, wrapping his arms around her.
"Congratulations," he says, kissing her.
"Congratulations to you," she grins back.
"So do I get some long, elaborate goodbye?" he asks, playing with a lock of her hair.
"Nope," she says. "Because you're stuck with me, at least for the immediate future."
He wrinkles his brow. "Can we make it forever instead?"
She laughs. "That sounds even better." He leans down to kiss her again.
She might be leaving behind the place she's called home for the past seven years, but she's not even as sad as she thought she'd be. She feels like she could take over the world, starting with London. They're planning on looking at flats next week, and she can't wait to have a place they can call their own.
She grins as he pulls away. She's so ready for her future to start – specifically her future with him.
She's moving on to bigger and better things, and, with Finn by her side, she feels like all of it is possible. All of her dreams are going to come true.
Um, yes, fluff overload. It's kind of all I can write right now. Hahah.
I hope you liked it, though. And sincerely, thank you all so so much for all the support you've shown this story. I love each and every one of you, from the bottom of my heart.