'Summer will end soon enough, and childhood as well.'
~George R.R. Martin, A Game of Thrones~
Hermione Granger had dreamed about the day she would graduate from Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry since the day she got her letter as an unsuspecting eleven year old. Seven years later, because of the war delaying her graduation, she had grown up into a mature, intelligent woman who had experienced more in her life than she ever expected. As far as she was concerned, life had never been boring.
And now that it was finally time to leave the school that had become her home, the castle that was her sanctuary, there was no time to slow down in this whirlwind life she'd been having. Graduation was the end of something, but the start of something new, as well. The "safety" she'd had at Hogwarts would be stripped away, and she would be required to fend for herself in ways she hadn't before.
She looked at herself in the mirror in the girls dormitories. She was wearing her white graduation cloak, her bushy hair tamed underneath the cap. As Head Girl she had a special sash and as the valedictorian she had an extra cord that went around her shoulders. She applied clear lip gloss and considered herself ready for the main event. She took a final look around the room. As an only child and a nervous eleven year old, she had no idea how she was expected to live with strangers for six whole years with absolutely no privacy, but looking back at their time together all these years later, Hermione was a little misty eyed at the thought of leaving. True, all her stuff had been sent down to the Hogwarts Express already, but bare as the room was, it still felt like home.
She fanned herself to keep the tears at bay since she was determined not to cry until after she had her diploma. Leaving the dorms and going down to the common room, she teetered uneasily on her heels, but made it down the stairs unscathed.
Professor McGonagall was speaking loudly, trying to line everyone up in alphabetical order. Only some students were listening, others were too nervous or excited to stand still and listen to orders. Some were talking amongst themselves. Hermione looked for her two best friends, Harry Potter and Ron Weasley, but neither of them were anywhere to be seen. And Ron's flaming ginger hair was usually always easy to spot. She sighed, deciding she'd find them after the ceremony and found her spot behind Harvey Goode.
She kept turning back to see if either Harry or Ron had shown up, but she couldn't spot them in the sea of Gryffindors. Some time later, they descended from the Tower and marched to the double doors of the Great Hall. The sky high doors were shut and there were two lines of Hufflepuffs and Slytherins waiting to graduate. The Gryffindors shuffled over, waiting for the Ravenclaws to show up. McGonagall shushed them and went over to talk to Slughorn, the head of Slytherin house.
There were just over a hundred of them all graduating. A hundred different people she had lived and studied with for seven years, Hermione thought, and now they were all moving forward together.
She spotted Draco Malfoy standing by himself among the Slytherins. He had once been considered their arch enemy- besides Voldemort, anyway- but he had left them alone all year. He'd been in and out of classes, as well, going to his father's hearings and such. She remembered how much he used to swear up and down the castle how much he hated this place. She looked at him now, trying to see if any of the pitiful, crying boy she saw the day the war ended was in him somewhere.
Finally, the Ravenclaws arrived in their white cloaks, and the procession into the hall began. Usually, each of the different graduating houses would wear their house colours, but since the war a year ago, both the Ministry and Hogwarts were taking steps to make everyone equal and eliminating the belief that one group was superior- in hopes of preventing another war. So now, everyone at Hogwarts graduated in white as they were all one school and not just their own house.
Walking down the aisle, Hermione saw all the glowing, and sobbing, parents. Some of Muggle families and half-blood families were snapping pictures with cameras or video to remember the day. Hermione smiled when she spotted her parents and waved into the camera. Further up she saw the Weasleys who cheered as she walked passed. Mr. Weasley fumbled with the camera he had bought with the help of her parents. She saw his finger blocking the lens as the flash went off, making her shake her head in amusement.
Professor McGonagall spoke to the families. "Congratulations to you all on the success of your children. It is theirs as much as it is yours and the faculty who worked tirelessly with them all for seven years. This year has been as much of a transition for us as it was for them. For once it wasn't just the graduating class getting ready for life on their own, it was also a change for all of us.
"Many of us went through terrible loss. Others lost homes. Our home, lost its most prized leader and courageous professors. Our castle was destroyed. We have rebuilt and we have made an effort to move on. As have all of you- you lost sons, daughters, brothers, wives, mothers, aunts. Some of you lost homes. But you have all banded together and risen from the ashes like a phoenix and faced the challenges presented to you with utter class and proven to be strong example for your children.
"Our Ministry has also changed. Steps have been put into place for new laws to be passed. Werewolves, house elves, squibs- all groups that have long faced discrimination are beginning to see their rights being protected. New leaders are being elected and slowly, we will see a change. It is all because of your courage and strength that we have lived to see this day come.
"And now, lets celebrate our graduates!"
Hermione clapped and cheered along with everyone else. She didn't want to follow that speech with her own vastly inferior one she had written for being valedictorian. The time came for her, though, to stand up and speak. Her stomach was quivering with nerves, but she turned to the rows of students and finally found Harry and Ron.
They waved at her and gave her thumbs up. It was hard to believe how far they had come since the troll in the bathroom first year. They had hated her. And now there they were, years later, bonded by something they couldn't explain. Bonded by their experiences and understanding of the other person. She beamed back at them and looked down at the index cards that held her speech.
"After seven years of the familiar, we are getting ready to disembark and journey into our new lives. I'm supposed to have some intelligent advice for you all, since my grades say I'm good at knowing the right thing. I don't feel qualified to have this much responsibility. I am, after all, the same as all of you. We all had the same classes, ate the same food, watched the same Quidditch games. My experiences here at Hogwarts don't dwarf any of yours.
"As I am up here, though, I'm going to ask you all to remember the values the late and greatly missed Headmaster Dumbledore taught us. He believed in love and doing the right thing above everything. What is right and what is easy, he used to say. He taught us that there is never a hopeless situation, there's light everywhere. A person is not defined by grades or blood or clothes. A person is measured by their choices.
"I'm grateful to all the amazing people here at Hogwarts for teaching me so many things. Professor McGonagall taught us about our respecting ourselves by handing in polished work and taking pride in who we are. Hagrid taught us about the importance of animals and caring for others. Madame Hooch reminded us about sportsmanship and working together. Hogwarts has given us these people, who have all dedicated their time to us. They have helped us grow and become who we are today.
"I hope you look back on your time here fondly and are excited for what's to come. The only piece of advice I feel confident enough to give you is: cherish your friends and your family. My friends and family constantly make me want to be a better person. I love them all for loving me and they keep me going when I feel like I can't. Hopefully you have all found those people here at Hogwarts and hopefully you continue to find them all through your life. Congratulations,"
She smiled as the audience clapped and her fellow graduates did, as well. Everything went by too fast after that. Diplomas were being handed out and it was all a blur of white walking back and forth. Awards were handed out- Hermione got eight of them. Harry received a special one for "moral fibre" and fumbled with it awkwardly back to his seat. Then they were turning their tassels and officially considered Hogwarts alumni. Hermione's eyes grew misty as confetti exploded over them and the ceiling of the Great Hall transformed into a bright blue sky with millions of balloons floating above them. They marched out as the music swelled behind them.
There was a party at The Burrow waiting for them. They all arrived by Apparation - her parents' felt slightly sick after the pop over. She caught up with Harry and Ron and gave them both another great hug.
"We graduated!" She cheered, still in utter shock and bliss that the moment had come. "Can you believe it?"
Ron wrapped his arm around her shoulder and pulled her against his side, "Cheers, mates! We're adults now!"
Harry laughed and fixed his glasses since they had gone askew in the hug, "I can't believe it."
Inside the house, it was warm and full of people. There was music playing and brooms for Quidditch out in the back garden. The table was full of steaming food and all their awards had been laid out in the living room. There were balloons and streamers and a big banner that read, "Congrats, Grads," with paint dripping off it. The place was littered with all the bouquets they had received and lit up by the sun's light.
Harry was assaulted by Ginny and the pair of them went off. Ron kept his arm around Hermione and they sat down on the couch. They had been together a year and it had been a good year. They stole kisses in the hall and did homework in the common room. Hermione cheered him on at Quidditch games and Ron made her a beaded bracelet for her birthday. His ratty, old 'R' jumper his Mum had given him for Christmas in sixth year that perpetually smelled like him, now belonged to her. Crookshanks still hadn't grown on him, but Hermione figured in time her cat would get used to him.
She snuggled into his arm and sighed in contentment. She wasn't worried about their relationship after school. They had spent seven years together. They were too used to each other's company to just stop seeing each other. Ron and Harry had pooled their money to get a flat together and start their auror training in a few weeks. Hermione, on the other hand, was staying at home for a little while longer. She had a simple job lined up at Flourish and Blotts in Diagon Alley and was saving up to get her own flat. She wasn't sure what she wanted to do yet- whether it be teaching or something in the Ministry. She was looking forward to the simple life she had lined up for the time being. Everything had been so intense for such a long time, that she had enjoyed the relatively normal last year of school she'd had. She'd been busy with her Head Girl duties and N.E.W.T classes, but it had been a different kind of busy and stress from previous years.
Ron seemed to sense her thoughts about the future, because he said, "'Mione, it's gonna be great. Living on our own, making our own rules..."
"You seem to forget I'll still be living at home, Ronald," She rolled her eyes playfully and nudged her boyfriend.
"Well, I'll be living on my own, and you came over and it'll be great. Just like our," His lips dipped down to her ear and she felt his warm breath on her as he said, "rendezvous in the common room all last year."
"What are you doing using words like 'rendezvous?'" She teased, blushing briefly at the mention of the late nights they'd spend making out on the couch. And now he was talking about doing it at his own flat. My, my, how times were changing.
"Always the tone of surprise," He sighed, squeezing her shoulders in punishment.
The rest of the party was a blur of good food, good music, and good company. Harry and Ginny were spotted locking lips a few times. George would yell, Harry would blush, and Ginny would huff in annoyance at being interrupted. Ron tried to dance, but tall and gangly as he was, he mostly shuffled back and forth. Mr. Weasley tried to work his camera and the flash would go off at the oddest moments and usually, in someone's face. Hermione saw her dad trailing after him all evening trying to help him.
Baby Teddy was well behaved and passed around all night. He was like a magnet, attracting everyone to him. Tonight his hair was a flaming purple and his eyes kept going through the rainbow. Baby Victoire, on the other hand, was a wailing mess all night. She was only a month old, but she obviously didn't like the loud music and constant chatter. Shell Cottage was quiet, Hermione remembered, so the little girl was probably having culture shock at her first Weasley party. She'd learn eventually.
"I propose a toast!" George called happily, the champagne sloshing around in his glass. His arm was wrapped around Angelina's shoulders and she beamed up at him. "To Ronnie, Harry, and 'Mione! They defeated Voldemort and now they graduated Hogwarts!"
Since the war, the Ministry had come under fire for being prejudiced, archaic, stiff, delusional... Once the war had ended, there was a mass firing of anyone that fought for the Death Eaters. Trials were held and people were carted off to Azkaban. Several well off pure-blood families had been able to settle their problems with large swells of money, but not every family was that lucky. Even those minor pardonings earned the Ministry so much backlash that they were forced to send some of those people to Azkaban for at least a day.
A meeting was being held today. There were meetings everyday at the Ministry dedicated to trying to bridge the gap between muggle borns and pure-bloods. Obviously, everyone was at a loss for what to do since the prejudice barrier had grown so much. But they needed to fix it, not just to prevent another war, but to save face. The Ministry was being called useless and some people were even calling for a new form of government.
"How bout a program that would bring muggle borns and pure-bloods together?" Marty Biggs pipped up. He was a small man with round glasses, fresh out of Hogwarts two years ago. He worked in the Department of Magical Transportation, so it didn't really make sense why he was at the meeting. The Ministry had gotten so buried under this problem that they were now bringing in wizards from random departments in hopes of finding a solution.
At everyones' blank stares, Marty gulped and stuttered on (working in the Department of Magical Transportation you didn't really deal with people much), "s-something to... make them w-work together."
"Go on," Wilson Betemit pushed. The new Minister had a deep voice that commanded a room easily. He had worked hard to pass several new bills that allowed house elves to ask for pay if they wished and set their own hours. He also made it illegal to hire someone because they were a werewolf and set up new employment rules that allowed werewolves to work three weeks out of a month. The week leading up to the full moon, they had off to prepare and be put on paid medical leave. Wilson Betemit had won over many wizards and witches with his plans, but it still wasn't enough to redeem the Ministry.
"W-well... every muggle born could have a p-pure-blood sponsor who would... help them get j-jobs and muggle borns could teach teach them about... muggle stuff..." Marty sputtered.
They all exchanged looks, murmuring to each other. Marty, spurred on by their interest, went on, "Since there aren't that many pure-blood families anymore... there wouldn't be enough. So we could... film it and air it to everyone..."
Wilson pounded his fist onto the wooden table, "I like it! A TV show. Nothing more muggle than that. We'll mandate it that everyone must own a television set and we'll air it as a holiday special. Starting it Christmas day. It'll create jobs and..." Wilson was like a kid on Christmas morning on a candy high. "This will be the best thing to happen to the wizarding community. Marty, you'll be a producer on this project. Draw up a list of names we'll cast. Rest of you, dismissed."
As everyone piled out, Marty sat back in his chair in shock. Had he really just pitched an idea and been put in charge of the project? How had that happened? He had a tiny cubicle in the Department of Magical Transportation listening to people complain about the service they received. He had been shocked when he was selected for this meeting, let alone having his idea chosen! What if this failed? He'd never done something this big before. He didn't know how to run something. What was he supposed to do first? Oh, right! A list of pure-blood families and muggle borns.
He stayed in the empty conference room drawing up the list. Pure-bloods were easy enough, there were a handful of them left. The real challenge was finding muggle borns that everyone would enjoy watching. The most obvious choice was Hermione Granger, seeing as she was probably the most famous muggle born, being The Boy Who Lived's best friend. Casting the others, however, would be a challenge.
A/N New story time! Hello world :D I have written this story in its entirety so no worries of an unfinished story. I hope you liked this beginning bit and are interested in seeing more. It would be AMAZING if you'd review. I love reviews. Seriously. It's the best thing in the whole world. Please drop me a line and I'll send you Draco Malfoy and a bed ;)