‘I just can’t wait to go to Hogwarts,’ Joseph said eagerly. ‘It all sounds so fun.’
‘Even the revision?’ Harriet smiled at him.
‘How can revising magic be boring?’ Joseph grinned.
‘Just you wait and see,’ Harriet said wryly. ‘This time next year you’ll be singing from a totally different song sheet.’
‘What does that mean?’ asked Emma curiously.
‘It’s just a Muggle expression,’ her grandmother explained. ‘It means you change your mind.’
‘I won’t,’ said Joseph stoutly.
‘I bet you will,’ Henry said. ‘Didn’t you hear what Grandma Harri said? It’s hard work going to Hogwarts. Did you ever learn about dragon’s blood, Grandma?’
‘Do you want to know what happened during exams?’ Harriet asked.
Many of the children were firm in their answer. Matthew wasn’t as convinced.
‘Exams sound a bit boring,’ he said slowly. ‘Isn’t there something more interesting you could tell us about, Grandma Harri?’
‘Well I’ll let you in on a little secret, Matthew,’ Harriet leant forwards conspiratorially. All the children edged forwards, eager to hear more. ‘Exams can actually be interesting, you know.’
The days leading up to exams were stressful for all the first years.
‘I just know I’m going to fail everything,’ Lucas said miserably. ‘What if they make me go back and live as a Muggle?’
'They won’t do that,’ Matty replied, trying to remain upbeat. ‘The worst they’ll do is make you do first year again.’
‘Urgh, that would be horrible,’ Niamh groaned. ‘Imagine that.’
'It would be worse for me,’ Matty said. ‘My sister is coming next year! If I was with her…’
‘I can’t fail,’ Lily said desperately. ‘No-one else in my family has ever failed. I can’t be the first one.’
‘You’ll be fine, Lily,’ Jamie joined in. ‘You know enough.’
‘But I still don’t know The Twelve Uses of Dragon’s Blood!’ Lily wailed. Everyone sighed.
‘How can you not know them yet?’ Niamh asked impatiently. ‘Even I know them.’
‘I just seem to have a block with them,’ Lily said sadly. ‘I usually get most of them, but I always miss out one or two. And the ones I miss out are always different!’
‘Well then you’ll be fine,’ Harriet pointed out logically. ‘That means you do know all of them really, you just can’t name them all at once. You’ll remember them in the exams.’
Lily was not convinced by this, and it was not helped by Olivia’s quiet confidence.
‘I think I’ve revised enough,’ she was saying matter-of-factly. ‘I went through all the spells I could think of the other day and they all went fine…’
Seven cushions, thrown with varying levels of accuracy, were launched through the air towards Olivia, who ducked, screamed and fell backwards out of sight off the arm of Niamh’s chair.
On the first day of exams, Harriet ate very little for breakfast. Her stomach seemed to be too full of rather wiggly things for there to be any room for anything else. Nobody else seemed to be eating much either.
The first year exams were held in a large classroom on the first floor, with room for the whole year group. When Harriet arrived with her friends, most of the others were already there, lined up outside in alphabetical order. As Harriet walked up to the front to take her place between Matty and David Eccles, she left Lily with Lucas near the back and ended up face to face with Dante Malfoy. He seemed to have turned his back on his sister who was standing directly in front of him, staring resolutely forwards.
‘Good luck,’ Harriet whispered to Adira. Adira gazed back at her, looking slightly desperate. Harriet knew that it was due to Dante’s presence but she said nothing, choosing instead to reach out and squeeze Adira’s arm sympathetically. The Ravenclaw girl managed a rather wobbly smile in return.
‘Come on, Harriet,’ Matty practically dragged Harriet away. ‘It’s almost time to go in!’
The rest of the week seemed to get easier for the majority of the first years as they realised that what their various older siblings had told them was indeed true, and first years exams weren’t all that difficult. Adira, however, seemed to withdraw more and more as the week went on. Harriet correctly attributed the change to over-exposure to her twin brother and rallied around her in an attempt to cheer her up.
‘I’m sorry I’m being so miserable,’ Adira sighed one evening. ‘It’s just being around Dante. I haven’t really seen him for ages and he either gives me horrible looks when no-one is around or he completely ignores me. I don’t know which is worse.’
‘It’s okay,’ Harriet said, giving her a hug. ‘It’ll all be over soon.’
‘And then it’s nearly the summer,’ Adira groaned. ‘Yay, more time with Dante.’
Harriet, like her classmates, was glad when the final exam was over and she could relax. This was not entirely for the same reason as her friends but because Adira was now free of Dante, for at least another few weeks.
‘Why was your friend Adira upset because her brother was there?’ Matthew asked at once. Harriet blinked. She hadn’t even realised what she had been saying. She quickly ran through what she had just said in her mind, and realised that there was no other way to explain it.
‘Well, they’d had a bit of a fight,’ Harriet replied eventually, sticking as close to the truth as she could. ‘It was just a silly argument, like you have with Emma and Henry all the time.’
Matthew seemed to accept this.
‘Okay,’ he shrugged. ‘What’s next?’
‘Well, that is almost the end of the year,’ Harriet said.
‘Did you pass all your exams?’ Emma wanted to know. Her grandmother nodded and smiled.
‘Lily and I both did very well,’ she said.
‘Grandma,’ Jocelyn said slowly, looking thoughtful. ‘That can’t be the end of the year. You’ve missed something out.’
‘What’s that?’ Harriet asked, turning to Jocelyn.
‘Well, you went straight from Easter to exams,’ her granddaughter was frowning. ‘You’ve missed out the Memorial Service. You did have them then, didn’t you?’
Harriet was initially surprised that Jocelyn should remember the timing of the event, but then again it was hardly unexpected, given that all of her grandchildren had attended the annual Memorial Service on 2nd May every year since they were born.
‘I’m sorry,’ Harriet apologised. ‘Did you want to hear about that? You’ve all been to enough of them.’
‘I want to hear,’ Jocelyn replied firmly.
The Memorial Garden in the grounds of Hogwarts was usually out of bounds to students unless they had written permission, so Harriet had never been in there before. Situated in a sheltered spot between the castle and the lake, the garden was quiet and peaceful and had flowers growing there that should not, by rights, have been growing in this mountainous part of Scotland at all. In the very centre of the garden, surrounded by flower beds and small bushes, stood a large monument made of white marble.
Harriet, entering the garden with her classmates, saw at once the early summer sun glinting off the monument and marvelled at its beauty. Row upon row of wooden chairs had been magicked in front of the monument and the first years filed in in silence. Harriet was at first too busy admiring the garden to notice Lily waving at somebody sat in the very front row of chairs. By the time she did notice, it was too late to see who it was.
‘Who was that?’ Harriet asked curiously, gazing around as the two girls sat down with the rest of the first years.
‘Dad and Uncle Ron,’ Lily replied, straightening her robes. ‘I expect Dad has to make some sort of speech, and I bet he’s dreading it.’
Harriet squirmed uncomfortably as she looked around at the hundreds of people who were steadily filling the garden. She would hate to make a speech in front of them, too. Just then, somebody tapped Harriet on the shoulder, and she turned around to see Matty smiling at her.
‘My parents are here,’ he said, pointing over towards the lake. Harriet squinted against the sun. ‘And my grandparents.’
Lily was looking too.
‘Because of your uncle?’ she guessed.
Matty nodded proudly.
‘Will there be an awful lot of speeches?’ Harriet asked Lily as they turned back to face the front, but Lily was rather too busy waving and nodding to many of the people finding their seats. Friends of her father, Harriet supposed.
Once everyone was seated, and there seemed to Harriet to be over a thousand people present, a rather portly looking man in magnificent blue robes and a matching hat stood up at the rostrum in front of the monument and began to speak.
‘That’s the Minister for Magic,’ Lily whispered for Harriet’s benefit, over the sound of the man welcoming everyone and thanking them for coming. Although the first years were sat at least halfway back in the block of seats, Harriet could hear every word as if it was being spoken from mere feet away from her, and she knew that the seventh years at the very back would be able to too.
‘A little over twenty two years ago,’ the Minister was saying. ‘Our community faced a very great threat. The Ministry had fallen into and wrong hands and it seemed that there was little that could be done to stop the rise of evil. The very governance of our world…’
Harriet found herself zoning out and tried to force herself to concentrate, cross with herself. She felt it was disrespectful not to listen, but the man stood at the front droning on seemed very at odds with the picture she had been painting in her head for almost a year now, influenced by both History of Magic and Lily and her other friends. She had pictured battles and bravery and quiet resistance from within, but all this man seemed to be talking about was politics.
‘Of course, putting the Ministry to rights again took a good deal of time and effort after all that was devastated…’
Harriet looked to her right and saw that Lily was frowning deeply, with something that looked like disgust written all over her face. It was satisfying to Harriet that Lily felt the same way as she did.
'Records entirely destroyed, buildings demolished, bodies to bury…’
But that wasn’t the point, thought Harriet. Those bodies that needed burying were people, with lives and hopes and dreams and families left behind. She looked up as people began applauding politely – evidently the Minister had finished speaking. She politely joined in the clapping but without much enthusiasm.
'What a load of rubbish,’ Lily hissed in Harriet’s ear. Harriet looked around at her. ‘The Minister wasn’t even in Britain when the Battle of Hogwarts happened! He ran away with his family right at the beginning of the war. He has no idea what it was like!’
Harriet nodded. That made sense. She watched as another man made his way to the rostrum. This man was dark-skinned and looked around the age of seventy. He wore long, dark, flowing robes with patterns on them and a rather strange hat.
‘Twenty two years ago today,’ the man began in much the same manner as the Minister had done, but immediately he conveyed much more passion and feeling. ‘The evil that threatened to destroy the world as we had known it was halted. It was halted by nothing more or less than the biggest show of bravery and unity that out world has seen in many, many years. There was skill – oh yes, there was skill – but what was shown that day was that the purist of love, the love for one another, can overcome the darkest kind of love, which is the love of power, control and the ability to influence others for our own ends.
‘A good deal many lives were sacrificed in this very place, and we must remember the bravery and loyalty of those who fought for us. We all suffer still from that terrible day, but we would be suffering a great deal more if that day had never come. For those of you who ask why, just imagine what would have happened if the darkness had never ended. How many of these children here today, the next generation at this fine school, would never have been born? How many of them would have been orphaned or bereaved in early life? And if they were alive, would their lives now be worth living at all?
‘Our lives, and the lives of all witches, wizards and Muggles alike, are worth living today because there were people from all walks of life who stood up for what was right. It was difficult, it was lonely and at times it felt pointless, but it was the right thing to do and because of this, we triumphed over Lord Voldemort.
‘To all of those who here today who suffered persecution or bereavement in either of the Wizarding Wars, this community extends its heartfelt condolences. But we are a community, and that in itself is the greatest reward. We are a community, despite what Lord Voldemort tried to destroy. Even all these years later, whenever you feel alone in your suffering or alone in your grief, know that you are not and that you never shall be. That is how Voldemort would have wanted you to feel. Do not let him win. He took the lives of so many, but let us not allow him to take the lives of those of us left behind.
‘Feel pity for those who were hoodwinked, feel contempt for those who chose to follow the wrong path, feel compassion for those who suffered and feel respect and gratitude for those who fought to save you. And above all, never forget what was sacrificed by so many for the future of our world.’
The applause this time was much warmer, and Harriet and Lily both clapped with enthusiasm. Harriet felt much better now, and although she had never met the man before she could tell that he had suffered along with the rest.
‘That was Kingsley Shacklebolt,’ Lily whispered. ‘He was the Minister for Magic after the war.’
‘He was a member of the Order of the Phoenix?’ Harriet whispered back, frowning as she tried to remember her History of Magic lessons.
Lily nodded, and the girls turned their attention back to what was occurring at the front. The next person to speak was Professor Flitwick, and he spoke about the legacy to the school and about the tolerance that was being taught to this latest generation of young witches and wizards. After Professor Flitwick came an elderly looking woman wearing emerald green and with her hair in a bun, who Lily whispered was Professor McGonagall, old Headmistress of Hogwarts. Harriet nodded. She had heard much about her in History of Magic, too.
Finally, a man with black hair and glasses got up to speak. Harriet recognised her Uncle Harry and felt pride swell in her. Despite the fact that she barely knew him personally, she had heard so much about him from Lily that she felt like she did. Unlike the speakers before him, he did not carry a sheet of paper containing his speech and he did not stand behind the rostrum. Instead, he stood just a few feet in front of the first row and gazed around.
‘Friends,’ he said. ‘I want to thank you. I want to thank you for being here today, but I also want to thank those who were here twenty two years ago, be they here today or not. Unfortunately, history will only remember the names of a very few, but this is not right nor is it inevitable. Those who committed the most obvious and seemingly important acts will be recalled, but what history will not tell is the small tales that keep us all going. Today I want us all to remember those seemingly small deeds that helped us to win the war.
‘I want to remember those who remained undercover at the Ministry, at great personal risk to themselves and their families. I want to remember those who maintained morale by broadcasting messages of hope from hidden locations. I want to remember those who did not submit meekly to the will of evil, but fought it in whatever way they could to establish justice. I want to remember those who went undercover to bring us vital and valuable information. I want to remember those who fought to the very end and would not go quietly. I want to remember those who selflessly protected other witches, wizards and Muggles near their homes, often at great risk to their own safety. I want to remember those who helped others escape from the clutches of authority. And I want to remember those who fought valiantly, those who were injured and those who did not come home. We will remember.’
The round of applause that greeted this speech was by far the loudest yet. Harriet looked around at Lily and saw that her face was wet. She then realised with a start that her own was too, but she and Lily were not alone in this. All around them, people were pulling out tissues or wiping their eyes on the sleeves of their robes.
Kingsley Shacklebolt stood up at the front again. ‘I want you to stand,’ he said.
With one movement, everyone present got to their feet and stood waiting expectantly. Lily was smiling slightly, as if she knew what was coming.
‘I have borrowed a few words from our Muggle friends from whom we can learn so much,’ he announced. ‘The first of these is this: “Greater love hath no man than this that a man lay down his life for his friends*”. Remember that and know that it is true. The second is this: “Never was so much owed by so many to so few**”. No-one is unaffected by these events. We will remember.’
As those words were spoken, Lily was already drawing her wand along with the rest of the congregation. Harriet quickly followed suit and saw that all around her, wands were being raised in the air, so she copied.
‘We will remember,’ Kingsley Shacklebolt said again, and a great echo followed his words as the whole assembled people repeated them.
‘We will remember.’
A shower of white sparks flew out of Kingsley’s raised wand towards the marble monument, and from every wand present there erupted more sparks of many different colours which fell over the monument too. Harriet, sending up her sparks with the rest, noticed a good deal of orange sparks and smiled. The Weasleys were very much in evidence, in remembrance of their Uncle Fred.
Later on that day, Harriet found herself alone by the lake. Lily had left the school for the afternoon to go with her family to visit the grave of her uncle and, although she had been invited, Harriet hadn’t wanted to intrude. Most of the students had by now returned to the castle, except those like Lily who were out with families. Many of the guests had gone home, apart from a small number who lingered in the Memorial Garden, laying flowers and talking quietly together. Harriet knew that ordinarily students were not allowed inside but she thought that today was different, so she made her way along the shore of the lake and towards the garden.
Once inside, Harriet wandered slowly along the edge of the garden to where some of the graves were. She knew that all of the families of those killed in the Battle of Hogwarts had been offered the chance to bury their loved ones in the garden, but only now did she realise what a small proportion of those it was who had accepted that offer.
Fives graves lined the perimeter of the garden on either side of the monument, and Harriet took her time to read each one and to admire the inscriptions, carvings and flowers on each. She didn’t recognise any of the names until she came to the fourth gravestone.
Colin Creevey, aged sixteen
4th June 1981 – 2nd May 1998
Turning away from the grave of Matty’s uncle and looking up at the names inscribed on the monument, Harriet sighed deeply. Throughout the year she had learnt more and more about the war and the Battle of Hogwarts, but she felt that only now could she fully appreciate the tragedy of it, which every magically brought-up child intrinsically knew but that she had had to learn.
There were so many flowers surrounding the base of the monument that Harriet could not get as close as she would’ve liked. On the front panel of the monument, the one that faced outwards into the garden, there were around sixty names carved into the stone. Harriet squinted up to the writing at the top of the panel:
In memory of those who died fighting for freedom in the Battle of Hogwarts
Harriet ran her eye down the long lists of names, stopping every now and again when she encountered one that she knew. She saw Colin Creevey near the top of the first column, and a bit further down she came across two names that she recognised from History of Magic – Nymphadora and Remus Lupin. Members of the Order of the Phoenix, she remembered. Mrs Lupin had been an Auror. Harriet paused for a moment, and then continued. Near the very bottom of the second column she came across another two names that see knew. One was Fred Weasley, Lily’s uncle, and the other was Severus Snape. He was the spy, Harriet reminded herself. The one who risked everything even though everyone thought he was up to no good.
Moving clockwise around the monument, she noted that the panel to one side of the front panel listed all those who had died in the First Wizarding War while those who had died in the Second Wizarding War were listed on the back. She searched these two panels for the names that she had heard about from Lily and in History of Magic, names that she knew must be there – James and Lily Potter, Albus Dumbledore, Fabian and Gideon Prewett, Sirius Black, Alastor Moody, Amelia Bones, her brother Edgar and his family, Rufus Scrimgeour and Dobby, a Free Elf – before moving around the monument to the last panel, wondering what could be written there. She blinked up at the heading above the lists of names, and then smiled as she realised what it said:
In memory of all the Muggles murdered by Lord Voldemort and his followers
Although she knew that she would not recognise any of the names here, Harriet read them nevertheless. She stored up as many of them as she could in her memory so that she could remember them too – Frank Bryce, a large family with several children called Johnson, a Mr and Mrs Matthews, three people called Riddle…
Harriet looked up at the monument once more and smiled again, glad that Muggles had found their place at Hogwarts and in the hearts of the wizarding community itself.
* The New Testament of the Bible, John chapter 15
** Winston Churchill, 20th August 1940
Hi! Thanks for reading :) I have to say that this is probably my favourite chapter yet, so I would love to know if you liked it too. This is, sadly, my final pre-written chapter and I have a lot going on at the moment, so updates may be a little slower from now on but I hope you'll stick with me!
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