Chapter 15 : One Last Farewell
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Hermione sat with the Weasleys. Mrs. Weasley sat to one side of her and Ron sat on her other side. She didn’t want to look at anyone else which was easy enough to do as they were seated at the front. She didn’t like that she could feel everyone’s eyes watching her, wondering why exactly she was sitting amongst the Weasleys. She had protested a little until Mrs. Weasley pointed to the seat.
Tears slowly ran down her cheeks as she remembered the last words she had managed to say to Harry. That she would never forgive him if he died. She really hadn’t expected those to be the last words he’d hear from her. The look he had given them had been filled with sorrow, as if he knew he was sorry that he had let her down. That he had let the entire wizarding world down.
She wanted to scream at the Ministry. It was their fault he didn’t even try to protect himself. How could she blame him when he was absolutely certain that he would be expelled once again from Hogwarts if he did under-aged magic in front of the Muggles. Never mind that it had been a twisted misinterpretation to make him look bad to everyone.
He had stood there, waiting as Voldemort had toyed with him before sending the Killing Curse at him and still he had stood tall, even knowing that death was seconds away. She suspected she knew why. After all, he was his father’s son, wasn’t he?
How she wished she could take those last words back and reassure him one last time to fight. Fight to live because he had to have had more to live for than what he had been given.
Tears continued running down her face, falling to the ground.
Ron noticed Hermione wept silently next to him. Tears were leaking from his eyes also. He remembered how little they were when they first boarded the train to Hogwarts. How oblivious they were to the fact that Harry would never make it to graduation. Why couldn’t You-Know-Who have remained dead like everyone believed him to be? Why did he have to keep trying to kill Harry until he finally succeeded?
It was uncanny how Harry put everything together. How he managed to get the answer without using logic would drive Hermione insane, but he turned out almost always right and they hadn’t listened to him. They had tried to convince him that he was wrong just because his conclusion didn’t make sense. He would have made a great Auror. Professor Moody had been correct even if he had really had been a Death Eater, which made it more than a little weird.
The times when he had been upset with Harry and had refused to speak to Harry came rushing at him. There had been too many to count. Of course, there was always going to be his jealous reaction to Harry being chosen to be a Tri-Wizard Champion. Looking back, how could he have doubted Harry after everything they’d been through? Harry had never wanted to be famous. The only time he was comfortable with people cheering for him had been when he played Quidditch.
He had believed the worst in Harry until he’d seen Harry facing the dragon, waving his wand and waiting. He watched Harry luring the dragon away from the nest. How had he managed to get the meanest dragon?
Ron’s thoughts turned to his sister. He had known that Ginny was interested in Harry. How long had she talked about Harry at home, worried about Harry? Why hadn’t he thought to tell Harry? Especially after Harry had saved her from certain death in the Chamber of Secrets? Why hadn’t he convinced Harry not to think about Cho when there was someone who really cared about him? How much time could they have had together if he hadn’t been, well, he didn’t know what the correct word would be.
Why hadn’t he noticed Ginny leaving? Why hadn’t he held her hand as they told the awful news that would break her heart? How could he have failed his sister so badly when she needed him?
Neville looked around at the gathering of people with a small feeling of awe. He couldn’t believe how many people had shown up for Harry and Ginny’s funerals. For that matter, he still couldn’t believe that Harry and Ginny were dead. He closed his eyes and had no trouble remembering when Gran told him.
“Neville, wait,” Gran commanded as he started to leave the dinner table. “There’s something you ought to know.”
Neville sat back down, his mind already skipping back to the plants he was working with in his room. He suddenly realized that Gran had continued speaking instead of waiting for him to sit. “What?”
Gran looked sad. “I know it’ll be difficult for you since they were both your friends, but…”
Neville shook his head. “I mean, what did you say?” He quailed inside at the thought of interrupting his grandmother.
She pinned him with the look.
Neville swallowed. “I’m sorry; I didn’t hear the first part…”
Her lips thinned as she continued giving him the look. Finally, she shook her head. “I said that there had been an attack on Privet Drive. The Ministry has investigated and has declared Harry Potter dead.”
“Why would they need to declare Harry dead?” Neville felt his heart constricting with grief. He also felt confused. Why couldn’t the Ministry leave Harry alone?
“Apparently his body disappeared after the attack and no one knows where he is.” Gran’s look changed to one of concern.
“But if he’s not there, perhaps he went somewhere…” Neville started.
Gran shook her head. “Several people saw him being hit with green light.” She watched him with compassion in her eyes, deliberately using a gentle voice.
“But there’s lots of spells that have green light…” Neville tried protesting.
“Neville, Mr. Weasley and Miss Granger were there. They witnessed the entire attack.” Gran said sternly.
Neville turned away from Gran. He didn’t want her seeing the tears gathering in his eyes. If Ron and Hermione had seen Harry die, then what hope could there be?
“The funerals will be held tomorrow.” Gran informed him. “I am certain you will want to attend.”
Neville turned back to face her, “Funerals?”
“Were you paying attention when I told you earlier that would be difficult as they were both your friends?” Gran looked at him sternly for a moment. “Miss Weasley was attacked outside her home. One of her brothers found her.”
“May I be excused?” Neville asked.
Gran nodded slowly.
Gran was sitting next to him, staring straight ahead without looking around. She was still wearing her hat with the vulture perched on it and her large purse sat on the ground next to her feet.
He could just see the Weasley family up near the front of the crowd. He thought he saw Hermione and two other women sitting with them. One of the women looked familiar. He frowned as he thought hard. She was from France?
He looked to the right of where he was sitting and noticed Hannah Abbott sitting a few rows in front of him. His heart winced for her. It was easy enough to see, even from where he was sitting, that she was trying hard not to cry. It had been an extremely difficult year for everyone. They had been in Herbology class when Professor McGonagall had spoken softly with Professor Sprout who nodded sadly. Professor McGonagall had walked over to where they had been sitting, working on whatever project it had been. Even though Professor McGonagall had spoken softly, he couldn’t help but overhear what she said and watch Hannah’s reaction. Her reaction was understandable. He helped her to gather her things together. She took her satchel from him with unsteady fingers. Professor McGonagall had taken her from the room and he hadn’t seen her for the remainder of the year.
That night, he had waited until the other guys had gone to sleep then he snuck back down to the common room where he worked hard on writing her a condolence note about her mother. He stuck the note under his pillow so the other guys wouldn’t see it. He didn’t think that Harry would have made a big deal over it, but he wasn’t sure about the others.
He frowned when he saw Professor Umbridge sitting next to Minister Scrimgeour. There was another man sitting with them. He hadn’t told his grandmother about everything that Professor Umbridge had done that year. What little he had told her, about what happened just before they had flown to the Ministry of Magic and ended up battling a dozen Death Eaters had horrified her enough. He agreed with Harry about her. Neither of them could understand how she had been able to keep her job at the Ministry. What would it take to have her lose her position?
A few rows behind the Weasleys, he saw their old Defense Against the Dark Arts professor, Professor Lupin sitting with a lady with midnight black hair. He wasn’t sure what to think about Professor Lupin. He had been nice to him while he was teaching and he had been encouraging. Something he had definitely needed by that time and he had learned more than he had expected to learn in the Defense Against Dark Arts class that year. He probably learned more that year than in any other year, especially last year. To find out at the end of the year that Professor Lupin was a werewolf was frightening. His expression turned to one more puzzled. Professor Lupin didn’t act like a normal werewolf. He smiled briefly when he noticed that the lady with midnight black hair placed a hand on his arm.
Neville caught another glimpse of Professor Umbridge when he looked around for who had started sobbing loudly. He was furious that she was there. She had done everything she could to hurt and harm Harry the year she was their Defense Against the Dark Arts professor and now she was acting as if she was going to miss him? She was the one who had sent Dementors to Kiss Harry! Twice!
“Neville?” Gran asked, concerned, when she saw the look of disgust cross his face.
“Her,” he nodded in the direction of Professor Umbridge, his fury easy to see in his eyes.
“I see,” Gran said, giving Professor Umbridge a considering look. “Refrain from showing such looks here. You are old enough to understand politics.”
Neville wanted to roll his eyes, but obeyed. He took several deep breaths as he tried his best to smooth his feelings from his face. He supposed it wouldn’t do if the Minister were to look around and see him giving Professor Umbridge a look of disgust. The Minister might believe it was for him instead!
His attention was turned when the witches behind him started gossiping while they waited for the funeral to start.
“He ought to have been able to finish school, at the least!” One of the witches hissed.
“Well, given You-Know-Who was after him, the Ministry ought to have protected him better.” Another said in a whisper.
“I heard they did.” The other one said just as softly. “But they didn’t know about the attack until afterwards.”
“How can they give top-security priority to someone and not know what happens?” The first witch asked.
“Easy enough with magic…” The second witch giggled, making Neville want to gag.
“Shush.” The third witch commanded. “They’re starting.”
Neville turned his attention back to the front. Before he had sat next to Gran, he had stopped to talk with Ron and Hermione. He knew that Harry wasn’t in the coffin sitting on the stone ledge. None of the Weasleys had any idea what had really happened to Ginny. Hermione had told him in a whisper that they had decided to bury them together and that they had chosen to place the photo book Hagrid had made for Harry at the end of his first year with Ginny, since they didn’t have Harry’s body.
He agreed that Harry and Ginny ought to be buried together. It just seemed right. He gave a rueful smile when he thought back to the end of their last year. He didn’t think anyone’s love story could possibly top Harry’s parents, but it appeared that Harry and Ginny did. It was easy to tell they loved each other. They adored each other.
A few days before they had their shining moment, Harry had been sitting in the common room after everyone else had gone to bed. Harry had been just staring at the fire. He had sat in a chair near Harry and asked what had happened. He didn’t think that Harry would have told him, but he hid his surprise when Harry told him about Draco’s attack and attempt to use the Cruciatus Curse and that he had stupidly used a spell he had found when he didn’t know what it would do. That Snape had healed Draco and had given him detentions every Saturday until the end of the year and that Professor McGonagall had agreed with Snape and had pointed out he could have been expelled. Harry hid his face in his hands at that point.
So Harry hadn’t been able to make the last Quidditch game of the year. Ginny had been Seeker. When Harry had come back to the common room, they were still celebrating their winning of the Quidditch Cup and in that moment, Harry and Ginny had kissed, heedless of the entire room watching them in various states of astonishment.
He had trouble following what the speakers were saying. They spoke volumes about Harry and Ginny, but he didn’t know who they were and he had a feeling that neither Harry nor Ginny knew who they were either. He saw Hermione lean against Ron, her shoulders shaking.
He looked again at Ron’s eldest brothers. The more he looked at the woman sitting next to Ron’s oldest brother, the surer he was that she had been a Champion in the Tri-Wizard Tournament. If so, then Harry had saved her sister from the Merpeople in the lake because he had believed she would have died otherwise.
“And it is with deepest regrets that I must say…” Neville glanced up at yet another speaker he didn’t know. He just barely kept from rolling his eyes. He went back to watching the Weasleys.
Fred and George were sitting silently as they looked in the direction of the coffin. He couldn’t remember them being this quiet or still. Not even when they were studying for their O.W.L.s.
He considered the red-haired man sitting next to the twins. It must be Charlie since he recognized everyone else. He was sitting next to a woman that he was very certain he hadn’t seen before. However, Charlie wasn’t even looking in the direction of the coffin. Instead, he was looking towards the lake. The lady leaned against Charlie to whisper something into his ear. Charlie glanced back before nodding in the direction of the lake.
There was still one brother missing. Percy wasn’t sitting with them. Instead, he was sitting near Minister Scrimgeour and Professor Umbridge. Neville glanced back over at the Weasleys. Did they know where Percy was sitting?
He turned his attention to Professor Dumbledore’s tomb. It was nearby. Ron told him it was on purpose because both Professor Dumbledore and Harry would have liked it. He had to agree with that.
I hope you’ve enjoyed reading this chapter. When I first began writing this story, I was posting around 1,000 words per chapter and so posted in two chapters what should have been posted as one. I have subsequently added more details to both chapters.
Thank you very much for your constructive criticism!
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