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Chapter 1: “We Remember…”
The normal, still evening atmosphere of Hogsmeade Village was riddled with the
distinct pops and cracks of apparating witches and wizards. Over the past few months, business in the small village’s countless shops, stores, pubs, and inns had slowly picked up as life in the wizarding world gradually returned to normal. This evening’s influx of magical life, however, had little to do with the growing economy of the Village. Exactly one year ago to date, the ancient walls of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry encased the final valiant and successful efforts of all those witches and wizards loyal to the school and the standards which she proliferated to generations of the wizarding world.
A slight breeze teasingly suggestive of summer buoyed up the thin cloaks of all those making their way up the winding path to the school grounds. Much to the delight of all, the school had reopened for term last September. Students and professors alike forged ahead to rejuvenate the secure atmosphere of magical learning so closely associated with the castle. Together, they began rekindling Hogwarts as a symbol of unity, learning, and hope throughout the wizarding world.
That same summery breeze ruffled the robes and hair of several hundred students already seated on the castle grounds. First year students, whose only recollection of the events of last May came from word of mouth, sat looking anxiously around, unsure of what to expect. Second year students sat looking both unsure and proud, having experienced a year of schooling both before and after the battle. Students in years three through six sat reverently, understanding the solemnity of the events being remembered on that evening.
Dennis Creevey’s thin frame was seated with other sixth year Gryffindor students. His jaw was clenched tightly shut, and his left hand was grasped by the hands of a slender blonde girl seated next to him. As he waited, he proudly recalled the years he spent with Collin on these very grounds. A distant smile graced his features as he recalled the passion with which Collin had left his side to join the fight for everything they both believed in. As much as he missed his older brother, Dennis was proud of the manner in which Collin had spent his last living day. He gently squeezed the hands grasping his and looked around, anxiously anticipating the arrival of his parents and other guests.
Hogwart’s seventh year students sat near the back of the student congregation. They gladly had removed themselves from their tenacious studies for their upcoming NEWTs to attend this memorial service. More so than the other years of students, they knew the price paid on these grounds. Several of them, having been of age last May, and others, out of loyalty to their friends and Dumbledore’s Army, had partaken in the now remembered battle.
Among these students sat a petite, fair-skinned girl with strikingly blonde hair. Like those seated around her, she wore the blue and bronze tie of the Ravenclaw house. Unlike those seated around her, a spectacular pair of radishes hung from her ears, a fresh sprig of catnip was tucked in her robe pocket, and she wore a wistfully content expression on her young, but wise, face. Luna Lovegood had been of age last May, and had fought valiantly alongside her fellow DA members and those she had come to call friends. Despite her seemingly oblivious persona, the past year had been a difficult one. After the dust had settled over the bloodied grounds of Hogwarts, Luna had devoted herself to helping rebuild the school and to catching up on the schooling she had missed during her months as a prisoner in Malfoy Manor. Although the evening was rather warm, an involuntary shiver ran down Luna’s spine at the thought of those days. The darkness and the torture she endured had threatened to break her spirit daily. A small smile crossed her content face. It was during those dismal days that Dean Thomas was injected into her life. They were each others constant companions. They had supported and reminded one another of life outside of the manor. A slight blush seeped into her pale cheeks and her smile widened. It took them several months to realize their feelings for each other, but had now been dating for almost eight months. Thinking back, she was sure she had fallen in love with the good-hearted, dark-skinned boy while in that basement. The sounds of footsteps coming up the path from Hogsmeade brought her back from her thoughts. She tilted her head up, towards the evening sky, and began contemplating an oddly shaped cloud.
Seated not far from her, sat a strikingly attractive girl with fierce eyes and fiery red hair. Underage, but not unfamiliar to combat, Ginny Weasley had, against her mother’s wishes, fought alongside her friends and family last May. A member of Dumbledore’s Army, Ginny had seen combat during the battle in the Department of Mysteries, and the following year when Death Eaters invaded the castle and Dumbledore was killed. She was not one to stand by and allow those she loved fight without her. After this last battle had ended, Ginny had sought out her family first. Numb to the last twenty-four hours, she had choked back tears as she stared down at the lifeless body of her brother. Even now, as she sat in the dying light of a beautiful day, she felt her throat closing and her eyes beginning to burn. Yet, no tears came. Just as no tears had come that day one year ago, as she had found her way upstairs to the Gryffindor boys’ dormitory and lay down in the arms of the man she loved. Ginny felt the familiar, blissful tingling in the pit of her stomach that she had come to associate with Harry, and smiled. Continuing to think back, she realized that the first time she had succumbed to tears was in George’s flat above the joke shop. Since then, she had tried to remain strong for her family and her friends as she worked alongside them to rebuild Hogwarts and their lives. She begrudgingly set herself to catching up on lessons she had missed after she was withdrawn from school. A scowl crossed her striking face. She had not wanted, nor seen the need to return for her final year of school, but had for her mother’s sake. Now as Ginny looked around the school grounds, a tear slipped down her cheek at the thought of her forthcoming final departure from these grounds.
The procession of witches and wizards from Hogsmeade Village began arriving in the clearing. Many parents, brothers, sisters, friends, and other family members of those who fought, as well as many who had taken part in the Battle of Hogwarts themselves walked under fading faux-summer sunlight. Amongst these travelers were students who had been deprived of the opportunity to complete their magical education the previous year. As Headmistress of Hogwarts, Professor McGonagall had made it possible for these students to take lessons at the castle to prepare them to take their NEWTs. The Patil sisters, Ernie Macmillan, Lavender Brown, Susan Bones, Seamus Finnegan, Dean Thomas, Terry Boot, Justin Finch-Fletchy and several others made their way to their seats behind the seventh year students. Varying degrees of compassion, discomfort, and remorse were visible on their faces as they remembered back to the previous May.
The cloud that had captivated Luna’s attention seemed to settle above the growing congregation as more and more people began to fill the remaining seats. A strained, dark-haired, scarred, young man accompanying an elderly woman gingerly made his way to chairs not far behind the upturned blonde head of Luna Lovegood and the fiery, tear-streaked face of Ginny Weasley. Neville Longbottom had never been one for large crowds, but had grown slightly more accustomed to attention over the past year. He was remembered by most as the surprising hero who had pulled the sword of Godric Gryffindor out of the Sorting Hat and slew the monstrous snake, Nagini. However, those closest to him regarded him as simply Neville: a good, kind-hearted, man who came into his own as he matured from a bumbling mistake prone boy, to a self-assured member of Dumbledore’s Army, to the leader of the underground student rebellion at Hogwarts during the last school year. Following the Battle, Neville had anxiously joined forces with all of those who worked to restore Hogwarts. Though he had lived a comfortable life with his Grandmother, he regarded Hogwarts as his home. Now that he was on the brink of finally completing his education, the idea of leaving the castle behind did not sit well with him. Neville nervously fidgeted in his seat, remembering the events of last year, and looked over his shoulder at the witches and wizards still making their way up the path.
Among them, Neville spotted a familiar witch and wizard slip quietly into seats several rows behind him. The witch sat, fidgeting slightly, and wringing her hands. Her thick bushy brown hair was pulled haphazardly off of her neck. Her bright, clear expression surveyed the congregation briefly before her face finally relaxed into a contemplative demeanor. Over the past eight years, Hermione Granger had grown rather nicely from a haughty, bossy, and tiresome girl to a compassionate, talented and intelligent woman. She inhaled deeply and sighed. She was not an emotionally-strong individual, and could already feel salty tears building in her eyes as she surveyed the hundreds of witches and wizards seated around her; each there because they had believed the same basic truths, suffered for them, and now remembered. She felt a friendly hand pat her leg; she squinted and sniffed back the tears threatening to overflow, and took the hand in her own. The series of events that had carried her from Bill and Fluer’s wedding almost two years ago to the eve of the Battle of Hogwarts was a whirl wind of fear, anxiety, quick-thinking, hope, and love. She remembered the gnawing feeling she had felt as she stood on these very grounds hearing that terrible voice echoing off of the castle walls, she remembered the pursuing battle as if she were a spectator instead of a participant, and she remembered the rollercoaster-ride of emotion she had endured as her best friend’s body was lain out for all to see before rising up to victoriously fulfill the prophecy made before his birth. As the sun rose that morning one year ago today, Hermione found herself in the tumult of witches an wizards present. As the encouraging morning sun had begun to beat down over the damaged and bloodied grounds, she had stole away to comfort and sought comfort from the lanky red-headed man she had grown to love over the past seven years. In the backdrop of victory soured by the death and destruction surrounding them, Hermione Granger and Ronald Weasley had confessed their feelings for one another, and shared in warm and gentle kiss full of promise, hope, and life. Her heart warmed now at the memory and her eyes glowed with love. As the evening light faded to dusk, her thoughts returned to the memorial service before her, and she gently squeezed the friendly hand on her lap.
Feeling her hand tighten around his, the thin, pale wizard adorned with round glasses and messy, jet-black hair returned the gesture. Harry Potter roughly cleared his throat and swallowed in an attempt to check the bubbling turmoil of emotions brewing in his stomach. After his prayer had been answered and Tom Riddle’s final curse rebounded upon its caster, Harry’s world seemed to play out before him like a slow-motion film. He had sought out the two figures he most wanted to see and shared the previous day’s events with Ron and Hermione, who had both listened with the caring, and understanding compassion only possible of best friends. He had then left them, as his exhausted body led him to his old dormitory. In his four poster bed, he had slept the sleep of the dead. He had only been vaguely aware of the comforting flowery scent that filled his nostrils as Ginny Weasley lay down beside him, and wrapped her tiny arms protectively around him. A grin crossed his face now as he thought of the amazing woman that his girlfriend had become. His green eyes flitted over the congregation of witches and wizards, who had all selflessly risked their lives for him countless times, and he spotted the back of her head. After he had awakened from his sleep, Harry had rectified his relationship with Ginny; assuring her that she was the woman he wanted to spend his life with. He had slowly descended the stairs of the Gryffindor tower with her and rejoined the world of the living. A year later he still felt the guilt that had consumed him as he had surveyed the death and pain around him following the battle. How many people had died needlessly? How many futures, families, and lives had been ripped apart because of him? He could not express to all those who had sacrificed and suffered because of him the depth of his appreciation and love for them. Slowly, and together, the wizarding world began living again. Harry had joined forces to help repair and rebuild the castle, agreed to finish his education, and took up residence at his second favorite location in the wizarding world, the Burrow. A warm feeling embraced him as he thought of the large, financially-strapped wizarding family that had taken him in as one of their own many years ago, without a single regard for themselves. At the thought of the Weasley family, he turned towards the path, awaiting their arrival.
As if on cue, several familiar figures appeared on the pathway. Despite the waning light, Harry could make out their identities. His tall and lanky best mate led the way, cloak billowing several inches above his ankles in the summery breeze. Ron Weasley had grown over the past year. As loyal as ever, he strived to be strong for his family and friends after the battle. He had buckled down and began taking his last year of studies seriously with the aid and encouragement of his girlfriend. He had shared his lofty desire of becoming an Auror only with Hermione. Having grown up in the shadows of his brothers, Ron relished the moment George had asked him to help reopen the Joke Shop, and spent several evenings a week working there. Through the tragedy of the past year, Ron had settled into a life that he was finally proud of. He glanced around the congregation and felt a poignant, but proud, swelling of pride. Not far behind Ron sauntered a thin, red-headed conservatively dressed man in glasses. Percy Weasley was grateful that he had been reunited with his Family after three years of estrangement, but regretted the circumstances under which he had been reunited. His insides crawled with guilt for Fred’s death, and he felt out of place among the brave witches and wizards around him. He nervously pushed his horn-rimmed glasses up his nose and lengthened his stride. A shorter, stocky, tanned, red-headed man walked off of Percy’s left shoulder. Charlie Weasley had apparated in from Romania earlier that day for the memorial service. He hadn’t seen his family since several weeks after Fred’s funeral, but had kept in closer correspondence with each of them. He had made sure each of them new he’d be home in a heartbeat if ever he was needed. He coughed roughly and continued walking towards the seated congregation. A long-haired and badly scarred red-headed man walked with a strikingly beautiful, extremely pregnant, blonde woman clutched to his right arm. Bill smiled and suppressed a chuckle at his wife’s valiant spirit as he watched her waddle up the path. He swallowed roughly and silently thanked all those who helped to make the world a safe place to raise his family. He pulled his wife closer to him, and set his mind to remembering the events of one year ago. Behind their oldest son and daughter-in-law walked a somber graying, red-headed couple. Molly Weasley’s motherly face surveyed the congregation seated in the clearing at the end of the path. Despite her own loss during the Battle of Hogwarts, her heart bled for everyone seated before her. She pursed her lips together, swallowed back tears and lovingly squeezed her husband of some thirty odd years’ hand. Arthur Weasley looked down into his wife’s eyes. Reflected in them he saw his own drawn face. The past year had been harder on him than anyone but Molly knew. Burying his peers, friends, and own son had taken a toll on him. Silent tears rolled down his aged cheeks as he squeezed her hand back. They continued walking to their seats. Following a short distance behind his parents, and bringing up the rear walked the somber frame of George Weasley. This memorial service marked more than a year since the Battle of Hogwarts for him. This service marked three-hundred and sixty five long, hard days since his brother, twin, best friend, and other half had been prematurely robbed of life. George breathed in and out robotically. After Fred’s funeral, George had forgotten to continue living. At times, he had wished he had been buried along side his identical twin. George cleared his throat at the memory. It was only when Ginny had appeared red-faced and tear-stained at the door of his flat that he had remembered that he was indeed alive. At Ginny’s suggestion, George had approached his younger brother and together they reopened the Joke shop that had been shut up for several months. He now thought of how much of Fred was in the shop and how happy the shop had made his twin-brother. A half smile threatened to grace his features, even as the all-to familiar, burning-sensation of tears filled his eyes. Even now, a year later, George still had to consciously remind himself everyday that he was alive. He invoked his lost brother and best friend almost daily when his life became too burdensome, but he was living. He again forced himself to breath, shook his head, threw a quick glance skyward, and took his seat next to his family.
Night had finally fallen, and all were finally seated in the shadow of the castle’s ancient walls, which seemed to sigh in remembrance along with the hundreds of witches and wizards seated within their stony embrace. A light drizzle of rain began to fall from the May sky as tears ran down the cheeks of those seated below it. For those who yearned to hear it, the magic of the school seemed to float through the crisp, summery breeze on the beautiful notes of a phoenix’s song. Leading the service, as Headmistress of the school, Minerva McGonagall stood before those congregated before her. She solemnly lit the tip of her wand, and in a ripple, hundreds of wands lit around her. She cleared her throat, and in her rich, rolling Scottish accent quietly said, “We remember…”