A/N: This story was written as a birthday present to Pink Mockingjay in Hufflepuff. Happy birthday and I hope you'll like it (I don't know if it matches your own head!canon…)! It was also written for Owluvr's Character Diversity Boot Camp Challenge with the prompt 'smile'.
"And now, I'd like a great round of applause for our 2025 graduates!"
Head Mistress McGonagall had not even finished her speech when the family and friends of the graduates that were gathered in the Great Hall erupted in applause.
Lily Luna Potter looked at the crowd, scanning the faces for that of her father. She knew was there, but just those short moments of eye contact and knowing that he approved calmed her down. She found him and he smiled up at her. Next to him was her mother, but she had always been more of a daddy's girl.
She fidgeted with the Slytherin tie that she wore for the last day today and thought back on the day she had started wearing it, seven years ago.
"Ah another Potter," the Sorting Hat said. "So, what will it be for you? Another plea not to put you in Slytherin, like your father and brothers?"
"No," Lily thought. She had spent some time thinking about it before coming to Hogwarts. "I think I actually quite like Slytherin. They're supposed to be ambitious, right? I want to become the best."
The Hat let out a sound that was almost like a chuckle. She didn't know hats could chuckle.
"So you really want to stand out from your family then. Well, that's a good character trait for someone who will be put in… SLYTHERIN!"
She walked towards the Slytherin table, smiling broadly. James would probably give her a hard time, but Al was in Hufflepuff so he would understand.
The cheering and applause died down and the students were free to join their parents for the graduation feast.
Both of her parents hugged her. "We're so proud of you!" they said and sent smiles her way.
"I got an O in Defence Against the Dark Arts and Divination!" Lily beamed and showed her NEWT's overview. Professors Allegria and Patil, her respective teachers, had been very proud of her and Lily was very happy with the result as well.
"Excellent!" her father said.
"Amazing!" was the word her mother used.
Lily did a little dance. "I'm finally done with school!" she exclaimed.
They sat down on one of the tables and not soon after, the food appeared on the tables. Lily had been on James' and Albus' graduation feast, but attending it as a graduate felt totally different. She felt mature and wise and as she looked around the Great Hall, she realised this was the last time she would be here. The last time she would eat in the Great Hall. The last time walking out of the doors and out of the grounds… She sniffed. No, no crying now, she scolded herself. It's just school.
After the feast, students and family members slowly began to leave the castle. They were all walking towards the edge of the lake, because tradition dictated that the graduates left Hogwarts the way they had first arrived: by crossing the lake in boats. Lily liked the symbolism of that, effectively closing off a chapter in one's life. Tradition also dictated that there was to be a graduate-only party in the Three Broomsticks afterwards that lasted throughout the night.
She kissed her mother and brothers goodbye, but her father took her aside for a moment, out of hearing range of the others. "Say Lily, do you already know what you want to do next year?"
Last time they had talked, she had still been indecisive about a career.
"I thought about it and…" She bit her lip, not quite sure how to continue. "I don't think I'm ready for any of it yet. Please don't be mad at me, but…I wanna travel first, see a bit of the world, find out what it is I'd like to do…" Her voiced trailed off as she looked at her father's face. "Forget it, it was a stupid idea," she murmured and turned to head for the boats.
Her father grabbed her shoulders and spun her around. "Lily, listen. Of course I'm a bit disappointed, but I understand it. You're my daughter and the thought of you going away for a year…"
"But you are too much like me to stop you," he said and tried to smile. "And you're clever enough to stick up for yourself."
"Does that mean it's okay?"
"Not exactly, but I'll respect your decision."
She hugged him. "Thanks, Dad, that means so much to me."
"On one condition," he continued, his face stern again. "You're not going alone. So if you can find someone to go with you, I'll work things out with your mother."
She hugged him again. "Thanks for understanding Dad."
He walked her back to the boats and embraced her before she got aboard. The boats took off and said: "Have fun! But behave yourself, okay?"
"I will!" she called back. And we she thought they were far enough from the shore but close enough for her father to hear, she revealed the tiny detail she'd held back before:
"By the way, I'll be doing the travelling together with my boyfriend Geoffrey Nott."
She knew he was baffled and probably angry, but she'd deal with that later.
Now, it was time to party.