Disclaimer: Anything you recognize belongs to the goddess. Dedicated with much affection to the late Richard Harris. Hogwarts won't be the same without you.
Eulogy for a Headmaster
The mood of the room was respectful and reflective and although the sadness of the people sitting near the coffin was palpable…still there was a breath of joy, like that one golden ray of sunshine that somehow pierces the storm cloud and allows light to filter through.
And the world had been through so much darkness.
The coffin was draped in a simple golden flag, upon which was blazoned the crest of Hogwarts. Two candles burned brightly on either side and there was a single arrangement of flowers. Just the one. It was what he had wanted. His chair…the central chair at the High Table, was draped in black. Fawkes was perched on its back…a blaze of colour against the somber tones of mourning.
He had lived a hero. He had died a hero. The testament to his life was the multitude of people who were sitting in the many rows of chairs in the Great Hall of Hogwarts. Wizards. Witches. Muggles. Giants. Werewolves. There were tears. There were smiles. There was quiet conversation.
Minerva McGonagall stood in front of the Head Table, immediately behind the coffin, and, for a moment, touched the gold cloth with a trembling finger. She paused for a moment; seemingly overwhelmed by the passing of one she had long considered to be her closest friend. Turning to the assembly, she managed a small smile.
"Albus Dumbledore was a great man. He gave more of himself to this school and to his students than any other Headmaster in Hogwarts' history. He refused to deny any student a place here despite their birth or their situation. His was a voice of tolerance…of acceptance. Nothing would have pleased him more than to see all of you together in one room.
Albus was my friend. He was my colleague. I may not always have agreed with his methods but I never argued with his principles. I can only hope that I will be able to carry out his duties with even a small portion of the devotion that he showed. I will miss him. I will mourn for him. But I will never forget him."
Professor McGonagall stood quietly for a moment and then hurried back to her seat, eyes shimmering with tears. Professor Flitwick patted her arm affectionately.
Cornelius Fudge, Minister of Magic, looked absolutely chastened as he made his way to the Head Table. His expression was one of utter disbelief. He made to touch the gold cloth but pulled away…as if it had burned him.
Sighing deeply, he turned to face the others.
"Albus Dumbledore presented to us all the face of the kindly grandfather who always gives you sweets at Christmas. I…I used to think of him as an idealistic fool whose notions of the Dark Lord returning were sheer balderdash. I was wrong…I was so very wrong. He showed me that one must do the right thing…even if it is uncomfortable…even if it shakes the status quo. Our freedom is more important than anything and I will not be so blind again. He opened my eyes to the arrogant fool I had become and, thanks to him, I was able to change.
I can never thank him enough."
Cornelius touched his heart in a gesture of penance and made his way back to his chair. He held his head in his hands and stared at the floor.
Sirius Black made his way to the head table. He looked at the coffin for a moment before nodding thoughtfully and, turning around, began to speak.
"Albus Dumbledore never judged a person before he knew them. He never presumed to know what went on within a person's mind…even though most of the time he somehow did. He was fair…treated everyone with the same courtesy no matter what bloodline you came from. He had this way of making you do things for him…not because he wanted you to…but because you wanted to, for his sake. He was understanding and patient and always wanted to hear all sides of a story before making a decision on it. I wish…I wish that I had been more like him and not tossed those qualities aside as unimportant.
I will miss him."
Sirius hurried back to his seat, dashing away tears with the back of his hand. Remus gave him a half smile before going up to the Head Table himself. He bowed his head respectfully for a moment before turning.
"Albus Dumbledore was the most tolerant person I have ever met. He never let himself be tied down by old prejudices…never let a newcomer be tarred with the brush of any group. He always judged a person as an individual. When I received my letter to attend Hogwarts, I felt as if every one of my dreams had come true. And through the years, he has never made me feel like anything except a dear and respected friend…and for that…I am humbly grateful.
Rest in peace…you have well earned it."
Remus turned to the coffin and bowed once again, walking back to his seat slowly. He sat down next to Sirius and closed his eyes, trying to calm himself.
Severus Snape got up slowly. His expression was blank and empty as he approached the coffin. Shaking his head, he put both hands on the coffin and looked down on it in utter sorrow.
"What can I say…what can I possibly say that could ever express what you did for me, Albus? When I came to you…so many years ago…that look of disappointment…it was worse than all the Unforgivable Curses combined. And yet, you forgave me when no one else would. You trusted me when no one else would. You gave me a purpose…when I thought there was not one. You offered me a chance at redemption when I felt sullied beyond hope.
I am sorry that I never told you that you were not only my colleague…but my friend. You were my friend, Albus. My friend. My…my only friend."
Severus sobbed brokenly for several moments, kissing the cloth reverently.
"Goodbye, my friend," he whispered.
He returned to his seat and sat down heavily…as if speaking had taken all the strength out of him.
Hagrid slowly got up and walked over to the coffin. He was crying freely, shining tears streaming down his face.
"Albus Dumbledore was a good man. A good wizard. A good friend. T'aint always easy being Headmaster of Hogwarts but he always had time for a cup of tea with me. Never had a bad word to say about no one what didn't deserve it. Never abused his position. Always had a soft spot for the students…per'aps a bit more for the Gryffindors but I don' think no one really minded all thet much.
He was a gentleman among wizards. Great man, he was. Great man."
Hagrid mopped at his eyes with a huge handkerchief and returned to his seat.
The last to speak, Harry Potter, stood up. Suddenly, he sat back down.
"I can't do this," he whispered to Hermione and Ron, who were sitting on either side of him. "I…I can't…the words won't come out."
"We'll come up with you, Harry," Hermione insisted, her face pale with worry.
"And we'll pitch in if you need help," Ron tried to smile but failed miserably.
The three former students got up. Hermione held Harry's hand and Ron put an arm around his shoulder as they came closer to the coffin.
"Go ahead, Harry…just say whatever you think is right," Ron whispered as he and Hermione stepped back.
Harry simply stared at the coffin. The tears began to burn at the back of his eyes and he wiped at his eyes angrily. The choking, painful feeling in his chest made speech virtually impossible.
Fawkes suddenly stretched and let out a short trill of notes, the vibrations of which echoed through the Great Hall. Harry felt the tightness ease somewhat…felt something reawaken inside of him…hope…joy.
Yes, there had been joy and, thanks to his sacrifice, there would be joy again.
"Albus Dumbledore was the very best of men. He taught me more important lessons than those learned in the various classrooms of this school; which he loved so dearly. He taught me what the most important things in this world are. Love. Hope. Freedom. Forgiveness. Tolerance. Patience. Cooperation.
He…he was like a father to me. He always knew what to say to me whenever I felt that all hope was lost. He never gave up on me even when I had given up on myself.
The world has lost a great man but I have lost a greater friend. I'll…I'll miss him."
Hermione and Ron hugged Harry and the three of them, after bowing their heads to the coffin, returned to their seats.
After a moment of silence, Minerva stood up and walked behind the Head Table. She picked up the wand that was sitting on the draped chair and, holding it out, walked back to Harry.
"He wanted you to have this, Harry," she whispered in a voice still thick with unshed tears.
Harry tried to speak but could not get any words past the lump in his throat. He lifted a hand to take the wand and mouthed his thanks without uttering a single sound.
Minerva touched his cheek affectionately. "I know, Harry. I know."
Minerva, along with Sirius, Remus and Severus then approached the coffin and levitated it gently, floating it along with them as they exited the Great Hall. The mourners followed, some crying, some smiling and others simply contemplating the life of a man they had all admired and loved.
It was after midnight and Severus Snape had been unable to sleep. Ordinarily, he would have taken a potion to remedy his nervousness but tonight he felt that doing so would somehow be wrong. And so, throwing a thick robe over his nightshirt, he had returned to the Great Hall.
He walked over to chair where the Headmaster had always sat. It was still draped in black but Fawkes was nowhere to be seen.
"I see you couldn't sleep either," Harry was standing off to one side, similarly garbed.
"No," Severus sighed as he sat down in his usual seat. "No, I could not."
"It still doesn't seem real…him being dead. I guess…I thought he would just keep on living," Harry stammered, uncomfortable with the grief that was still too new…too fresh.
"We all must die at some point. Immortality is hardly a gift. He has earned his rest," Severus replied automatically.
A scraping sound turned both wizards around. Hermione was standing there, in her flannel nightrobe, holding a book. Her eyes were red.
"I couldn't sleep," she mumbled as she took her accustomed seat at the High Table beside Severus. "I just kept thinking about him."
"It seems we all were," Severus commented.
"Harry? Come sit down before you fall down," Hermione gestured to the empty seat beside her. Harry nodded and sat down heavily, staring at the draped chair with such sadness that Hermione reached over and embraced him.
"I wish he was still here," Harry cried, holding onto Hermione like a drowning man holds onto a life preserver.
"I know, Harry," Hermione murmured, stroking his hair, tears running down her cheeks.
"He is still here," Severus replied softly.
Harry looked up at him with a confused expression on his face.
"I don't understand," Hermione shook her head.
Severus stood up and lifted his arms. "Look around you. This very place is imbued with his soul. Within these walls, his spirit will live on in the countless generations of students who will learn here. As you said, Harry, the most important lessons were not those learned in the classroom and, as long as we keep that spirit alive, Albus will never be truly lost to us."
"He's right, Harry. We have to keep his vision of Hogwarts alive. That's why he brought us back here to teach. We can't let him down…it wouldn't be the Gryffindor way of doing things," Hermione smiled. "No offence intended, Severus."
"None taken," Severus replied with a small smile.
"I don't know if I can do that…I don't know if I have that kind of strength left in me," Harry sat up, taking off his glasses to wipe his eyes properly.
"You do, Harry. And if your strength is not enough, we will help," Hermione smiled, reaching out to hold Harry's hand and Severus' hand as well. Harry nodded and they all stood up and walked out of the Great Hall…towards the future…and a cup of hot cocoa…because that was what Albus would have done.
And, in the office of the new Headmistress, the portrait of Albus Dumbledore smiled.
Yes, his work was now done.
A/N: Being one of the older fanfiction writers, I knew of Richard Harris before he became Dumbledore. His role in "A Man Named Horse" was simply incredible and who can forget him in "Camelot" where he played King Arthur? Truly a marvelous actor and a man not afraid to live his life his own way.