Chapter 34: And in the End…
June descended upon them, bringing with them NEWTs, which everyone agreed could not have been more appropriately named.
"I'm not going to make it to July," Peter moaned, the night after their first exam, Potions.
"You'll be fine, Wormtail," James said. "You managed a very decent Draught of The Living Death today..."
"But Transfiguration is tomorrow—" he started.
"And you are an unregistered Animagus," James interrupted. "NEWTs are a dawdle compared to that."
"Don't sell yourself short, Peter," Lena put in, placing a hand on his arm. "You can do this. And we're all here to help."
"With a little help from my friends, eh?" he asked.
"Now you're talking," Lily said, and put on Sgt Pepper's. "It was 11 years ago today, actually," she said. "1st June, 1967."
"And Pete, what else do they say on Pepper?" Lena asked. Peter shrugged. She passed him the sleeve.
"Getting better all the time?" he guessed.
Indeed, though the next day's Transfiguration paper was tricky, almost the entire group felt reasonably confident with their answer on Animagi. The practical examiners were very impressed by the standard of James' Conjuring.
Charms went swimmingly for most of the year. Very swimmingly for those in the Hall during Peter's exam, as he was a little too enthusiastic with his Aguamenti Charm.
Defense against the Dark Arts was by far one of their tougher exams, most expected this was to do with the increasingly volatile situation in the Wizarding world. Very specific questions were asked about Patroni and Shield Charms.
The entire castle seemed to breathe a sigh of relief when exams were over, none more than the seventh years. Each house played host to a least one party, and Gryffindor to several. Speculation was rife as to whether the boys were planning anything to mark the end of their time at Hogwarts. McGonagall was extra vigilant, conducting surprise searches of the Gryffindor dormitories, and had placed detection spells on the kitchen door, so no one could tamper with the food.
"She doesn't trust us at all," Sirius lamented as he entered the Room of Requirement. Seven years had taught them that their bedroom was not the optimum location for illicit potion brewing.
"Have you ever given her reason to?" Lena asked.
"I've been good while I've been Head Boy," James protested.
"That's about to change," Lily said. "And you're dragging me down with you."
"Evans, you can walk away any time," James said, and Lily shook her head.
"I've done so much already," she sighed. "And it's going to be blatantly obvious I've had a hand in it, once it happens." A smile flickered across her face.
"Be honest, you're looking forward to it," Remus said.
"I am, a bit," she grinned. "I hope this works."
"Should do," Sirius said. "This is going to be great." Lena looked up from the vapours emanating from the cauldron.
"It won't be long, yeah—" She pulled her head back and coughed. "Should be fine."
Students filed into the Great Hall babbling excitedly about their plans for the summer. The seventh year Gryffindors walked straight to the table just like any others, ignoring the piercing look McGonagall was giving them. They took their seats and ate their meal as normal, and the Head of Gryffindor was growing even tenser as the desserts appeared.
"Treacle tart, Minerva?" Dumbledore offered.
"No thank you, Professor," she said impatiently. "I can't see how you've not been worried about what Potter and Black are planning."
"Minerva, they have been determined to cause a ruckus since the day they entered this school," Dumbledore said. "Let them have this farewell." McGonagall's lips thinned. "Do you realise," Dumbledore continued, "that this is the last time they can cause a fuss? That they'll be gone from the school next year? One last time, Minerva. Time, perhaps, to give up the fight and surrender to the inevitable."
He took one last spoon full of treacle tart, and stood up. The hall went silent. Lena reached into her school bag.
"The lid, the lid, quick," Lily hissed, and Lena popped the top off. Fumes wafted out and with unnatural speed filled the entire Great Hall. Students coughed a bit, and spluttered. But no one sprouted fangs, or fur, or turned strange colours. McGonagall turned to Dumbledore expectantly. He cleared his throat.
"All I gotta do is act naturally." McGonagall was baffled. She opened her mouth to ask the headmaster what had happened.
"Would it be too much to ask of you, what you're doing to me?" she spluttered. That wasn't what she had wanted to say. Lily Evans was giggling madly. The entire hall was stunned and confused. Voices sprang up none quite sure what they were saying.
"I need somebody."
"Say the word and you'll be free."
"I want to tell you, my head is filled with things to say, all those words they seem to slip away."
"The games begin to drag me down."
"I should have known better with a girl like you," McGonagall said angrily. Dumbledore grinned.
"Wait, until I come back to your side, we'll forget the tears we cried," the headmaster said soothingly. McGonagall took this to mean she should not storm down and sentence the whole lot of them for as many hours of detention as she could fit in before the train left tomorrow morning.
Frank tugged at James' arm.
"You'd better run for you're life if you can, little girl, hide your head in the sand, little girl," he said with a smile on his face, pointing to McGonagall.
Muggle born students were laughing and shooting knowing looks at Lily. "Let me tell you how it will be," Dirk Creswell said to his fellow Ravenclaws. "It was twenty years ago today, Sgt Pepper taught the band to play. They've been going in and out of style, but they're guaranteed to raise a smile."
The Slytherins were not impressed. "Yesterday," one huffed, "all my troubles seemed so far away."
"Miss Lizzy, say you're driving me insane."
"You tell me that you've heard everything you want, and your bird is green—"
The hall was chaotic. No one could understand each other, and while some found it hilarious, others most definitely did not.
"It's been a hard day's night—"
"It doesn't really matter what words I say, the chords I play or time of day it is, it's only a Northern Song."
"You say goodbye, but I say hello."
"The Magical Mystery Tour is waiting to take you away—"
"It's all too much for me to take—"
"The sun is up, the sky is blue, it's beautiful, but so are you—"
Dumbledore stood up, and the chaos subsided.
"There's nothing you can do that can't be done," he announced. Lily bounced happily. The others smiled. Dumbledore winked at them before continuing.
"Nothing you can sing that can't be sung.
Nothing you can say that you can't learn how to play the game
It's easy." The entire hall felt unable to resist.
"All you need is love." The Slytherins looked murderous, while the Gryffindors had clasped hands and were shouting along.
"All you need is love."
The Hufflepuffs and Ravenclaws followed suit.
"All you need is love, love." McGonagall saw that this was the aim of the whole fiasco, and grudgingly joined in.
"Love is all you need."
Professor Sprout was swaying merrily with her arm around Professor Deschanel, and Cooke was grinning while conducting the school with his dessert spoon. Nearly Headless Nick, The Fat Friar, and the Grey Lady all floated merrily through the haze still lingering in the hall, Nicks head bobbing up and down in time with the song. Peeves soared in, and began to turn somersaults through the air, throwing wads of paper at the students as he did so. As the song petered out, James, Sirius, Remus, Peter, Lily, Lena, Ally and Kim stood on the Gryffindor bench and chorused loudly.
"And in the end, the love you take, is equal to the love… you make." They took a sweeping bow, and stepped down. The haze lifted, and everyone stopped singing. A buzz arose when people discovered they could speak normally again. Dumbledore clapped loudly, and the entire Gryffindor table followed suit. McGonagall even joined in.
"That was very complicated magic," she said grudgingly to Dumbledore under the tumultuous noise. "But I am glad this is their last feast."
"You won't miss them at all, then?" the Headmaster asked.
"No, I won't," she said. "I never want another seven years like the last ones." Dumbledore grinned at the slight wobble in her lip and the shine in her eye.
"How has it been seven years?" Kim sighed, as the Hogwarts Express pulled out of Hogsmeade station. They all stared out of the window at the castle that was growing smaller and smaller.
"We'd better be off to patrol the halls," Lily said, and Lena, Remus and James stood up with her.
"See you in a while," Lena said to Sirius, kissing his cheek.
"We're finished school!" Sirius said excitedly. "I can't wait. We're free now!"
"You've been of age for almost a year now," Peter pointed out.
"Yeah, but I've been in Hogwarts all that time, haven't I?" he replied. "I'm moving in properly to the flat, and I don't have to answer to anybody anymore. All I have to do is have fun." He looked delirious at this prospect.
"What are you going to do?" Ally asked.
"Oh, I don't know," Sirius said. "Find a job somewhere. Anything that'll pay the bills. Plenty of time to decide on serious things later."
"Where's Lena staying?" Peter wondered.
"With Lily for a bit," Sirius replied. "And she's going to decide what to do with her parent's house, which she'll inherit in October."
"Owning a house, wow," Kim said. "I'm daunted by the thought of renting a flat in Diagon Ally."
"When do you two move in?" Sirius wondered.
"August," Ally answered. "I'm really looking forward to it."
"Oh, living on your own is great," Sirius enthused. "I must do up my place, actually. Some Tornadoes things… and a sink!"
"Ooh, the luxury," Lena said, flopping down beside him.
"Have you made the corridors safe again?" he asked, draping his arm around her shoulders.
"Not a chance," she replied, pulling a chocolate frog from her pocket. "Everyone's a bit excitable, it being the end of the year. We're fighting a loosing battle." She shrugged. "What can I do? It's not like I'll get in trouble for it in September." Her smile faded slightly.
"You ok, Lee?" he asked.
"I'll miss it, is all," she said. "It's a bit scary, you know, without Mum and Dad. But I'm sure I'll get settled once I start at St Mungo's."
"Of course you will," Sirius said. "And you have me, to distract you and have fun with."
"That's good," she said. "I don't want things to change too much." He kissed her hair.
"We never will," he promised.
A/N: This is the end! Sorry it took so long, and everything. But: Good news: I'm starting the story all over again on my new website, www dot buckbeakbabie dot com. It is only 2 chapters long at the minute, and I plan to finish it completely before I start updating again, so that I can be sure to finish it and not have it end up like this one. You know, months or years between chapters, etc. I want to thank everyone who read and reviewed the whole time, and gave me tons of encouragement through this whole saga. There shall be sequels, don't you worry, they'll all most likely be on my website. Come on over, everyone's welcome!
Thank you all again,