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Chapter 16 : Goodbye
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All classes and other activities were cancelled indefinitely. The next day Mad-Eye Moody – who was now the new leader of the Order of the Phoenix – called in an emergency meeting for Order members and DA members. After they had worked out the necessary changes in the plans for the final battle, they talked about what had happened at Hogwarts the day before.
“What was Nagini doing here anyway?” Harry asked Mad-Eye. He knew the ex-Auror was one of the few Order members that knew about Voldemort’s Horcruxes.
“Voldemort must have given her the task of surveyor. Had he known how much Dumbledore knew, he probably wouldn’t have risked it. Her death means that we’re at least fully prepared for what’s coming.” He ignored the uncomprehending looks he received from various Order members.
“But at what price.” Harry mumbled.
Ginny, who was sitting next to him, grabbed his hand and held it firmly. “Do you think that was the goal of their attack?” she asked as she turned to Mad-Eye.
Moody didn’t have to ask what she meant. “Definitely.” he grumbled. “They left right after he…”
A silence fell as Mad-Eyes voice faded away. The pain of Dumbledore’s death was still fresh and several people had tears in their eyes as they thought about the departed headmaster. After a long silence Professor McGonagall cleared her throat. “As you do or do not know, it was Professor Dumbledore’s wish to be buried on the school grounds when his time came. Despite that it is highly unregular, it wouldn’t occur to us to deny him his last wishes. Professor Dumbledore will be buried on Thursday morning.”
“What about succession?” an Order member asked. “Who will be headmaster?”
“I have been named temporary headmistress.” McGonagall said. “At least until the end of the year. Then the governors can appoint a new headmaster.”
After Mad-Eye had dismissed everyone, the new headmistress called to Harry: “Mr Potter, would you care to stay for a minute?”
“I’ll see you guys later.” Harry mumbled to his friends and he walked over to Professor McGonagall a bit anxiously. Even in this circumstances, he always felt like he did something wrong when she wanted to see him.
“I wanted to see how you are doing, Harry.” McGonagall said with an uncharacteristically soft voice. “The events of yesterday have given us all quite a shock, but for you… It was clear for all of us to see that you were Professor Dumbledore’s favourite student and that you had a special relationship with him.”
Harry gave her a weak smile. “I’m fine, Professor. I will be, at least.”
McGonagall nodded an put a hand on his shoulder. “You meant a great deal to him, Harry. And you do to me too. I will not try to replace Professor Dumbledore, for I know that would be an impossible task, but I will always be there when you need me.”
“Thank you, Professor. I will keep that in mind.”
Harry highly appreciated Professor McGonagall’s words, but she had definitely been right about one thing. No one would ever be able to replace Harry’s mentor. He had left another void in his heart that would never be filled again.
“All students, please follow the head of your house to the grounds. Gryffindors follow me.” McGonagall said after breakfast. Dumbledore would be buried on the school grounds today. McGonagall, although named temporary headmistress of the school, had left the chair of the headmaster unoccupied since Dumbledore had died. She hadn’t set foot in the headmaster’s office yet either, she still used her old office.
The Gryffindors followed McGonagall to the grounds were rows of chairs had been lined up, facing the lake. A lot of the chairs were already occupied by members of the Order of the Phoenix and family of students that had gone into hiding at Hogwarts.
The members of Dumbledore’s Army were seated on the front rows, together with the Order members. Harry swallowed with difficulty when he saw Dumbledore’s body. His hands were folded on his chest and they had left his half-moon glasses on his crooked nose. Harry sat down next to Ginny and grabbed her hand. He was glad she was there with him, because he didn’t think he could face this alone.
McGonagall had asked Harry to say something during the funeral. He refused at first, not feeling up to it, but his friends had convinced him to do it. Dumbledore had always been more than a teacher to him. He was almost family. He realized he should be one of the people to say goodbye to him. Hermione had offered to help him write something, but Harry had declined. He didn’t want to rattle of a meaningless speech. He wanted to say something personal, but he still had no idea what.
First Professor McGonagall stood before the mourning crowd. She talked about Dumbledore’s academic achievements, like discovering the twelve uses of dragon’s blood and defeating Grindelwald. She also talked about the influence Dumbledore had always had on his students, including herself.
When McGonagall had stepped down, Aberforth stood before the crowd.
“Albus was a brilliant, talented man. I realize that his death is a big blow for our magical world. But he was also my brother.”
He looked at his brother’s body and sighed. “It wasn’t easy growing up with Albus. Although extremely kind and loyal to his family and friends, you knew that when you were in Albus’ presence, you’d always come on the second place. Of course I was happy for my brother and his success, but it also made me quite jealous and it drove a wig between us. There has been a lot of tension and fighting between us during our younger years. The death of our sister Ariana, seemed to have blown up all the bridges between us. Instead of supporting each other in our grief, we blamed each other for what happened. Something I have never apologized for.”
Aberforth turned to his brother’s body and bowed his head. “I’m happy that we had the chance to sort out our differences later and found a common goal to bring us together. First, the defeat of Grindelwald and later opposing Lord Voldemort. You were my brother in more than blood, Albus. I will miss you terribly.”
When Aberforth had sat back down, Ginny nudged Harry in the ribs and he realized it was his turn to say something. He stood up from his chair and slowly walked towards the platform.
“I have only had the privilege to know Professor Dumbledore for the last six years.” Harry started. “Which is not nearly enough time to be in the company of such a brilliant, but primarily kind, good-hearted wizard. I am too young to witness about his earlier triumphs, but I have seen him fight Death Eaters. Professor Dumbledore has spent his entire life opposing and fighting the Dark Arts. He is a hero that doesn’t know his match in this world.”
“To me, Professor Dumbledore also stood for a lot of other things. Teaching was his true calling and he has taught me everything I know. He has taken me under his wing and he has made me the man I am today. I can never thank him enough for that.”
“The dark forces that took Professor Dumbledore away from us are still out there. Before, I would have never thought that we would be able to face those forces without him by our side. He convinced me otherwise. He convinced me to believe in myself and trust on my own powers. Something I know he has done with every student that he had under his guidance.”
Harry watched the crowd and saw several teachers and Order members nod with tears in their eyes. Many of them had been at Hogwarts when Dumbledore was still teaching Transfiguration.
“That is for me the most beautiful part of Professor Dumbledore’s character. He always saw the good in a person. Even when that person didn’t see it himself.”
He turned to Dumbledore’s body. “Thank you. For everything.” He put his hand in the inside pocket of his robes and pulled out a pair of thick, woollen socks that Dobby had knitted for him. They were scarlet and gold, designed with lemon drops and phoenixes. He carefully put them beside his headmaster.
“A man can never have too many socks right?” Harry said softly. “Goodbye, Professor.”
Professor McGonagall had cancelled classes for the rest of the week to give everyone, students and teachers, the time to grieve for their fallen headmaster.
Harry spend the following days in the Gryffindor common room, in the company of Ginny, Ron Hermione, Neville and Luna, who now usually only returned to the Ravenclaw tower to sleep. They didn’t even go down to the Great Hall to eat, they just asked Dobby to bring them something whenever they were hungry. Most of the time they just talked or they sat by the window, overlooking the lake and the white tomb where Dumbledore’s body now rested.
On Saturday, after they had finished a small lunch that Dobby had brought them, Hermione finally found the courage to ask Harry if he wanted to schedule a DA meeting. To her surprise and relief Harry reacted positively. He had been putting off calling a meeting, because he knew they would talk about Dumbledore and what happened that week, but he knew the members expected to hear something from him soon. He decided to schedule a meeting for that night.
Dean Thomas had drawn two pictures of Dumbledore to hang on the wall of the Room of Requirement, next to his drawing of Angelina. The first drawing showed Dumbledore in dark purple robes, pointing his wand. The other one showed Dumbledore smiling characteristically with open arms as if he was welcoming his students at the start of term feast.
Harry felt tears welling up in his eyes as he watched the second drawing. It was the side of Dumbledore he was going to miss the most.
“We’re all going to miss him, Harry.” Luna said, putting an arm around his shoulders. She gave him a weak smile.
“He was a great wizard. And a great man.” Hermione said.
“One bad-ass grandpa.” Seamus added.
Harry smiled at the memory. Pulling himself together, he sat down with the rest of the DA members on the couches and armchairs that stood in one corner of the room.
“First of all, thanks all of you for what you did earlier this week. You have once again done a terrific job. But I’m afraid you can’t expect the final battle to be like this. It will be much more dangerous and there will be a lot more Death Eaters.”
“You’re not going to try to talk us out of fighting again, are you?” Anthony Goldstein said.
Harry smiled. “Not this time. But I am going to make sure that each and every one of you will be ready when they come.”
Harry stood up from his chair and started pacing in front of the other DA members.
“We could mope around and give up hope after what happened, but it wouldn’t do us any good. And it’s definitely the last thing that Dumbledore would have wanted. Together with the Order of the Phoenix we will make sure that he didn’t die in vain. Dumbledore gave his life fighting Voldemort and his Death Eaters, trying to stop them. And we will make sure that his work is finished.”
“Hear, hear!” Seamus said.
“So we’re going to start training again.” Harry continued. “We’re going to train harder and more frequently. From now on, nothing is more important than the hours we spend in this room. Not Quidditch, not exams. Not even O.W.L.’s or N.E.W.T.’s. We’re going to show them that they won’t break us. Agreed?”
A chorus of support and encouragement rose from the present students. Harry noticed that they hadn’t sounded this hopeful in a long time.
“Then let’s get to work.”
“There is some good in this world. And it’s worth fighting for.” – J.R.R. Tolkien (The Two Towers)
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