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disclaimer: i still don't own the characters here “It seems odd to think of never coming back here, doesn’t it?” Lily asked James as they prepared for their graduation ceremony. James came out of the bathroom with a large grin on his face and his hair uncharacteristically flat. “Yeah… but we’re going to be on to bigger and better things. And besides that, we get this one last big bash as a good-bye present.” Lily cocked her head curiously before ruffling his hair (to his protest). “It looks better that way, more you,” she explained. “But aren’t you going to miss it? The people? The everyday activity?” Ruffling his hair even more, James tucked his shirt into his pants. “Yes, but look at it like this: we’re venturing into a new chapter of our lives. We’re going to meet lots of interesting people along the way. That’s what growing up is all about, changing life styles, meeting new people, trying new things. One chapter of our lives has come to a close, yes, but who’s to say that the next won’t be even better?” Trying to smile in response, Lily couldn’t help but think abut the fact that this was the last day she was going to see James day in and day out for quite some time. With tears stinging her eyes, she responded, “it’s just so hard, though. Saying good-bye… to everyone.” At this, her eyes met his. “Hey, we’ve already discussed this,” James said soothingly, rubbing her shoulders. “We are going to be together, no matter what. The sweet without the bitter wouldn’t be half as sweet, right?” Lily sighed heavily and quickly wiped her eyes. “You’re right. There’s still two months right now that we can spend together before going off for our own dreams.” She thought she saw a glimmer of mischief in James’ eyes when she looked back up at them. “What?” James grinned, but shrugged his shoulders in a very Sirius-like manner. “I’m just excited to finally be done school, that’s all. Come on, we should go see if my parents are here yet” Lily wasn’t entirely convinced that this was the cause for the glint in his eye, but she, too, was excited to see his parents again. * * * “Remus! Oh my, but you’ve grown!” Mrs. Potter, exclaimed, pulling him into a hug. “It’s good to see you again.” “You, too, Mrs. Potter,” Remus replied happily. Mrs. Potter had always been exceptionally kind to him. “Good luck to you today!” She continued. “And where’s Peter? I haven’t seen him since last summer,” she craned her neck to try to find him, though had minimal results because she was so petite. “I think I saw him over by the food table, Mrs. P.” Sirius beamed at her before wrapping her in a hug. “Your son should be around here somewhere, too.” “Oh, there’s Lily, dear,” Mr. Potter called to his wife. “James must be around here—oh, there he is now. James! Over here, m’boy!” A wide smile plastered on his face, James jogged over to where his friends stood with his parents. “Hey, Dad. Alright, then?” Mr. Potter pulled him into a brief hug before Mrs. Potter could pull him away. “Oh, I’m so proud to see you all here!” She gushed, planting a large kiss on James’ cheek. “Oh, Lily, how are you dear?” Mrs. Potter turned her affections momentarily away from her son. “I’m doing fine, thanks, and yourself?” “Quite good, quite good! I’ve been working on my baking since you last came to visit.” “That she has,” Mr. Potter cut in with a grin. Lily smiled indulgently, then turned her head in the opposite direction when she heard someone call her name. “Lily! Come over here, my mom wants to see you!” Amelia shouted, trying to force her way through the crowd. Turning back with an apologetic look, Lily excused herself from the group. “Good luck, dear! We’ll see you after as well!” Mrs. Potter called after her. * * * “Before we wrap up, there are a few honorable mentions I would like to make.” Dumbledore held up his hands, asking for quiet once again from the rows of students and parents. “First, to Mr. Severus Snape” --Sirius made a small booing noise, and James looked like he was using all his strength to keep from doing the same—“who will be returning next term as a teacher in training.” Dumbledore bowed his head in Snape’s direction and ushered in the congratulatory applause. “Also, Mr. Harvey McMillan has been accepted to manage Gringott’s foreign affairs in the United States of America.” Again, the Headmaster bowed towards the recipient before continuing. “Lastly, I would like to announce, to my great pleasure, that two of our students have been admitted into an advanced Auror training program.” Lily’s stomach clenched and her face burned a little red, but her nervousness was drowned out by her curiosity as to whom had achieved that other position along side her. “Congratulations both to Miss Lily Evans and Mr. James Potter.” Dumbledore beamed out towards the tumultuous applause. Lily spun around in her seat to search for James, sure there had been some mistake. When her eyes rested on his, he merely sent her a smile and gestured for her to turn back around for Dumbledore to finish. Her heart pounding madly and her brain working furiously to work this information out in her head, she swiveled in her seat to once again face the front. “Without further or due, it is with great pride and privilege that I present to you the graduating class of 1977.” Dumbledore was the first to clap, followed by the numerous other Professors on either side of him, and roaring to thunderous levels when the parents and family joined in. Lily stood and hugged the people on either side of her, then tried to push through the crowd to find James. Sirius had taken to standing on his chair to call out a staged good-bye to those around him, much to the pleasure of the crowd. Remus had made his way over to congratulate Harvey McMillan. Amelia was already back hugging her parents. Peter and James were giving each other sycophantic praise when Lily had pushed towards him. “What is Dumbledore on about?” She asked, a look of bewilderment on her face. James gestured for Peter to run along with the other Marauders. “Congratulations to you, too,” he grinned. “Con—wait, don’t change the subject! What about playing for the Wasps?” Shrugging, James gave her an awkward grin. “I applied late for the Auror program. Lucky I’m so bloody brilliant, eh?” “James, playing quidditch has been you dream since as long as I can remember! As much as I love you, you can’t just follow me around and forget your own dreams, I won’t--” Interrupting her tirade with a quick kiss, James said quietly, “Now my dreams include you.” Lily had a pained expression on her face. “This isn’t--” “Hey,” James interrupted again with a small smile. “I turned down the Wasp’s offer ages ago, so you better learn to live with this decision.” Managing a small smile of her own Lily hugged him. “You are my dreams, Lily. Anything you do, I want to be right there beside you, every step of the way.” “Aren’t you going to miss it, though?” “I can’t promise I won’t, but it’s like I said earlier: we’re on to a new chapter of our lives now… well, after the party, of course, and I’m sure I’ll have you to occupy my time.” Lily giggled, then pulled slightly away from him when she saw his parents approaching them. “Oh, would you look at you two, all done school now!” Mrs. Potter cried, literally, a handkerchief clutched tightly in her hand. When Sirius, Remus, and Peter came to join the group, Mrs. Potter wailed even louder. Mr. Potter grinned as he pulled his wife towards his shoulder and began to lead her away from them. “Congratulations, you lot. James, I think it best if we head off now.” James grinned his identical grin back at his father. “Sure. See you tomorrow, then?” “You bet.” They were walking away when Mrs. Potter burst away from her husband. “No, not yet, I haven’t hugged him!” Bustling back to her son, she squeezed him tightly, then held out an arm for Sirius to join as well. “We’ll see you tomorrow, boys.” Her gaze fell on Lily, Remus, and Peter before she spoke again. “And we had best be seeing you soon as well.” After reassuring her that they would all be regular visitors, Mrs. Potter and her husband left for home. It didn’t take long for everyone to say their good-byes and likewise send their parents on their way. * * * “It won’t be too bad, I promise!” James called to Lily as Sirius began dragging him towards the refreshments table in the Great Hall for some unidentified mischief. “It better not be!” Lily giggled back, resting for a moment in her chair. She was smoothing the wrinkles out of her skirt when a voice interrupted her thoughts. “Would you like to dance?” When Lily looked up, she smiled widely at Remus. “Sure!” This was the final good-bye to the seventh years, a dance care of Dumbledore. It was already well into the evening, and everyone was anxious to get in their last words with each other. Remus took Lily’s hand in one of his own and they began to dance, a rather old-fashioned gesture, but expected nonetheless. “So, what are your plans for the summer?” Lily asked brightly. “I--” Remus began, then seemed to change his mind. In a barely audible voice, he replied, “I wanted to thank you…for everything this year...i know that you know, and I just—thanks” His eyes remained on the floor. Lily gave him an odd look, but waited for him to look back up to respond. “Remus, you’re a good person, I know that.” He caught her eyes uncertainly. She nodded in confirmation. “It’s not like you chose for this to happen, and I understand that. I don’t know what you’re like for that small fraction of time each month, but I do know that during the rest of the time, you are the best and most needed influence on those two boys over there,” she finished with a grin, motioning over towards James and Sirius and what appeared to be a completely innocent situation had they not been standing there. Remus chuckled at this, glad they had cleared the air on the subject of his abnormality. “They’re untamable, those two. But I must say, James has been doing loads better lately, and there’s only one change I can attribute that to.” He gave Lily a significant glance. “You’ve been really good for him, Lily.” Lily grinned up at him. “I like to think he’s been good for me, too. Made me loosen up a bit.” Remus was about to reply when the sound of a clearing throat interrupted. “If I didn’t know better, I might be jealous of this friendly little conversation,” James said with a grin, his arms folded across his chest. Lily rolled her eyes playfully, while Remus reddened around the ears. “I guess I’ll let you step in then, eh, mate?” Remus asked holding Lily’s hand out to his friend. “You just mind you’re manners, she’s a good girl.” He tipped his head downward to look at him in a mock-fatherly way. Bowing in acceptance, James took Remus’ place on the dance floor and grinned at him toothily as he retreated to baby-sitting Sirius. “Nice bloke, that one,” James commented, as though he had just met him. “Yes, he is. That’s why I always wondered what he was doing mucking about with you,” Lily responded, beginning to sway to the music along with James, a large smile capturing her features. James cocked an eyebrow at her, then let his face fall into a smug grin. “Well, you obviously like them bad, anyway.” Lily laughed. “I suppose. So, what did you two do over there, anyway?” She tilted her head towards the table, which now stood abandoned. Shrugging, James sighed. “Oh, nothing, really…a little of this, a little of that….the usual.” Allowing her smiling eyes to linger on his for a brief moment, Lily took to resting her head on his chest, listening to the rhythmic beating of his heart. The recently graduated students continued to dance and chat the night away, leaving to go to bed only when McGonagall forcefully closed the doors to the hall. As they began heading for the common room with their friends, James gradually began to lead Lily towards the large oak doors. “What do you say, one last stroll by the Lake?” Casting an uncharacteristically reckless look back towards the teachers, Lily quickly nodded. Once out in the cool night air, she seemed less excited at the prospect of being caught outside after hours, even though term was officially over. “Is there something special you had in mind? I’m kind of worried about being found out.” James grinned. “It’s called the dark side, Lily, and you’re going to love it.” Shaking the feeling of dread away, Lily grinned back at him. “Seriously, though, there is one stop in particular I wanted to make.” A few moments later, the pair found themselves under a familiar Weeping Willow. Lily smiled at him. “What’s this, has James Potter gone soft?” Chuckling at her, James pulled her into a seated position facing the tree. “Yeah, alright, it’s got a special place in my heart. There’s been some rather fond memories made here. Got a problem with that?” Giggling as she rested back against him, she shook her head. Taking out his wand, James flicked his wrist in a quick, upward fashion. Seconds later, as though carved into the trunk of the tree hundreds of years earlier, the words ‘J.P. loves L.E.’ shone back to them in the moonlight. “We’ll always have this,” he whispered into her ear, leaning down to receive the kiss she was leaning in for. The couple remained for some time later, only deciding to retreat to the castle when the skies opened up and started to rain down on them. * * * The following morning was a rushed haze of flying books, parchments, and clothing as Lily tried to help James pack in time to catch the train. “You really should have gotten this started yesterday, you know,” she huffed, after sitting on his trunk to help close it. James shrugged. “Early preparation’s not really my style, love. Besides that, we’re ready in time, anyway.” Casting a levitating charm on both of their heaving trunks, James picked up Canoah’s cage and surveyed the Head’s room around him. “I guess that’s everything, then. Ready to head out?” Taking one last look around her, Lily nodded and exited there dormitory for the last time. The two rushed down the path to Hogsmeade Station eagerly, the sun shining on top of both their heads. Settling their belongings in a compartment with their friends, the two went off for their final duty as Head Boy and Girl—one final patrol of all the cars to make sure everyone was aboard. * * * “See, I think McGonagall’s going to have us all beat. She’s been alive for, what, a hundred years already?” Sirius joked, just as James and Lily returned to the cozy train compartment already occupied my Amelia, Melanie, Sirius, Peter, and Remus. “There’s no way she’ll retire before our children get there, at any rate” “You do realize how long she’s been there already, right?” Amelia asked, shoving down to make room for the two newcomers. “So what?” Sirius retorted quickly. “Look how long Dumbledore’s been there, and McGonagall’s his right hand man —er, woman.” “What does it matter?” James jumped in. “We’ve got a whole summer of recklessness ahead of us and all you lot can think about is school and what it’s going to be like in the future? I really expected more from you, Padfoot,” he chided, smirking at his friend. “As did I,” Remus grinned. “Hey! I was just stating an obvious observation!” Sirius tried to rectify himself. “I’m probably the most excited to be out of there!” The rest of the train ride had the former Hogwarts students comparing previous summer stories and how much they were going to make this summer count. “You’re going to come visit us, right?” Sirius asked Lily from across the compartment. “It was such an eye opening experience last time, I’m eager to catch some more dirt on you.” Lily grinned in embarrassment. “I most likely will…though I do remember you scaring quite easily as well. I must admit, my interest on the subject is rather piqued.” Sirius let out his bark-like laughter. “Oh, Evans, how is it we didn’t discover how much fun you were sooner? We’ve got many a year to get caught up on.” “All in due time, Sirius,” Lily giggled. “But for now, I think we’ve got a more pressing matter. We’re at King’s Cross.” The group of seven slowly gathered their belongings and exited the train. Once on the familiar platform, the realization that they would never be doing this again hit them all. Melanie gave a sob-wracked good-bye to the Marauders (and a rather wet send off to Sirius) and her two closest friends before leaving for home with her parents. Amelia shed a few tears as she walked away from the group to give Lily a more private good-bye. Turning to Peter, Remus, and Sirius in turn, Lily squeezed them each tightly, uttering a soft farewell. When she came to the end of the line, she tried to put on a brave face, but what happened instead was a rather sad, forced smile. With tears in her eyes, she rushed James to hold him in a tight embrace. “This is more awful than I imagined,” she whispered, trying to hold in her sobs. “Hey, hey, shh,” James whispered, holding her head against his chest. “It’s not good-bye, not really. You’re going to come visit lots, alright? And maybe you can even take me on some muggle adventure or something, yeah?” He ducked his head down to get a good look at her. Sirius cleared his throat loudly before throwing a cloak over both Lily and James’ heads. Laughing at the gesture, Lily even through tears, James leaned down and kissed her gently on the lips. “I’m always going to be there, Lily, always. I can be with you in a heartbeat, whenever you like. Probably even sometimes when you don’t want it.” Lily chuckled again, drying her eyes. “It just all seems so…final.” Sighing and pulling her towards him for a final parting hug, James said, “the only thing I look at as forever is you and me.” Standing on tip-toe to place a final kiss on his cheek, Lily ducked out from under the cloak and strode towards the magical barrier. Looking back once, she smiled as she waved to the four Marauders, snapping a mental picture in her mind of the first day of the rest of her life. A/N: and it's finally finished! woohoo, took me long enough, eh? haha, well, here's to hoping you like how i ended it, and as i've said before, i hate shameless self-advertising, but it would be awesome if i could get feedback on this now that its complete--some have asked if theres a sequel and such, so review and let me know what you think! just as another note: because so many of you awesome people asked, i will be working on a sequel. however, because it took me so ridiculously long to finish the last few chapters of this one while school was in, i think it best to wait until i have a bit more of a break, so maybe christmas, but probably not until the summer. i am working on other one shots and such though!

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