Chapter Twenty Two
It had been five days since the attack on Hogsmeade, and those days had been long. There had been nearly three dozen funerals for not only students of all three schools, but also residents of Hogsmeade as well. It had taken two days for Azkaban to be retaken, and by the time the dust had settled, nearly seventy percent of the prisoners had been killed, either by the aurors sent in or by the prisoner's own hands. The dementors had all but vanished, leaving everyone wondering where the creatures had disappeared to and hoping that wherever it was, they remained there till the end of time and a few extra days beyond.
However, all of that was almost forgotten when word had spread. Albus Dumbledore had died.
"You doing alright?" James asked his wife as he finished pulling on his black dress robes.
"I'm fine," Lily said as she just stared at her reflection in the mirror.
"Okay," said James. "Now would you like to try that again and actually make it believable?"
"Of course I'm not alright," Lily said, sounding frustrated. "I'm a horrible person."
"No you're not," James quickly said as he walked over to his wife and held her close.
"I am," Lily said, on the verge of crying. "I was a complete bitch to him. He did what he thought was best, and I all but crucified him for it. He died thinking that I hated him."
"That's not true," James said. "Albus… He was a great wizard, but he was also a flawed man. It was something he knew quite well. There was no way he could have foreseen that your sister would allow any harm to befall her own blood. Hell, even I could never imagine Petunia would let it happen, and I knew her personally. Can you say that you could have pictured it happening?"
"Of course not," Lily said.
"And as for the things that have happened in the school," James said. "Spending time with the Board of Governors… Well, the majority of them are all sanctimonious jackasses who only care about their own interests. If he hadn't gone along with their wishes, they would have demanded his resignation and put someone else in charge that more than likely would have been a puppet for Malfoy. The only reason I pushed for him to be sacked is because I knew that with me on the Board, I could ensure someone else that would care for the students would be placed within the position."
"I know," Lily said, however that didn't stop her from partially blaming herself. Practically since the day they came back, she had held a deep burning hatred for the old man.
"So, let's get through today," James said, "and then we can move onto more important things."
"Harry," Lily said, nodding her head.
"Exactly," he said. "We have to help him get through this tournament, and then once this whole mess is over, we can watch our son grow up and be happy and fall in love and start a family of his own. Not to mention our own little ones on the way."
James gently rubbed his hand across his wife's growing belly, which brought a small smile to her face.
"We still haven't even talked about names for them yet," said Lily.
"I think we can wait a month or two before having to worry about that," said James. "For now, we have a funeral to attend."
Harry stood in front of the full length mirror in the forth years boys dorm of Gryffindor tower as he pulled on his plain black funeral robes.
"I still can't believe he's dead," Harry said.
"Me either," said Neville as he pulled on his own robes.
"I don't get why you two are all mopey," Ron said from his bed where he was reading the latest issue of Martin the Muggle. "You guys get the skip classes today because you get to go while the rest of us are stuck here."
"What the bloody hell is your problem?" Neville asked with a scowl on his face as he turned to look at the red head. "A man has died. Not only that, but died protecting people. If not for Dumbledore being there along with the others, a shite load more people could have been killed that day, your brothers and sister included."
"Oh please," scoffed Ron. "We all know that Harry would have rushed in and saved the day."
Ron then set down his comic and sat up as he looked at the green eyed wizard.
"But that does raise an interesting question," Ron said. "Why didn't you try and help stop them?"
"What?" asked a confused Harry.
"Come off it Potter," said Ron. "We all know you have a thing for saving people."
"Harry did," said Neville. "He lead all those people out of the village and back here to the castle."
"Yeah right," said Ron as he stood up. "I think we all know the truth."
"And what truth would that be?" asked Harry.
"You were a coward," said Ron. "You were afraid and ran away. It's only because other people ran in the same direction as you that everyone thinks you some big hero."
"You dirty son of a…" Harry started to say, only to stop when Neville punched Ron in the jaw.
"Mr. Longbottom," McGonagall said with a very stern look as she walked into the room, witnessing what had just happened.
"But Professor," Neville started to say.
"You will serve one week of detention for Professor Sprout for physically assaulting a fellow student," McGonagall said.
"But Ron said…" Neville tried to interject.
"I heard exactly what Mr. Weasley said," said McGonagall. "Which is why as interim Headmistress of this school, I am making the decision to have Mr. Weasley removed."
"What?" Harry, Ron, and Neville all exclaimed at the same time.
"You can't do that," said Ron.
"I can and I am," said McGonagall. "Mr. Weasley, your behavior this year has been atrocious. And while Albus has allowed you to remain here, I am not. Pack your things. As soon as I return from the funeral, I will be personally escorting you home and informing your parents of the reason why."
McGonagall started to leave and then stopped.
"And do not attempt to try and run away," she said. "I will be having the school elves monitoring you until I come back."
Before Ron decided to explode, both Harry and Neville decided to head down to the common room and wait for Hermione, only to find her sitting on the couch, waiting for them. She to was wearing a plain set of black robes for the funeral.
"You two alright?" Hermione asked when she saw them.
"Um… well," Neville started to say.
"We'll tell you on the way down to meet my parents," Harry said, not wanting everyone to overhear and allow the Hogwarts rumor mill a fresh bit of gossip. They would eventually find out when Ron was gone, which would be for the best as no one would be able to exacerbate the situation with the youngest Weasley male.
The village of Godric's Hallow was known for many things. It was the birthplace of one of the four founders of Hogwarts. It was one of only three villages in all of Britain where muggles and magicals lived together and muggles knew about magic. It was the home to many well known witches and wizards including Bathilda Bagshot, and at one time, the Potter's as well as the Dumbledore's. And of course, it had also became famous as the place where the dark wizard Voldemort had finally met his end.
Today it was getting another footnote in history as the final resting place of the second to last member of the Dumbledore line.
The Ministry had wanted to make a grand spectacle of Albus Dumbledore's funeral, saying that a man of his stature deserved such a parting farewell. However, his brother had stepped in and told the Ministry that they could go to hell. This was a time for family and friends, and he would be damned if he would let them turn his brother's death into a three ring circus.
Which is why there were barely over a dozen people gathered in the graveyard behind the little church to say their final farewells to the man.
"What can I say about my brother that hasn't been said countless times before," Aberforth said as he stood next to the solid oak casket. "He was a great man. A man of vision and talent. But he was human, just like the rest of us. He was foolish in his youth, making stupid decisions that came with a heavy price… A price that he spent every single day since trying to pay. Not many know this, but Albus was once friends with Gellert Grindelwald. Gellert transferred to Hogwarts for his final year, and they shared a connection. They shared a dream to change the world. But one night, Albus began to see that Gellert was willing to do anything to achieve that dream. To cross lines that my brother refused to cross. I walked in on them arguing and tried to intervene. That just made the matter worse, and eventually wands were drawn…."
Tears started to roll down the mans cheek and into his beard.
"To this day, we don't know who cast the spell, but one of them struck and killed our sister," Aberforth continued as he looked over at the headstone next to where Albus was being buried. "That's how Albus got a broken nose. I punched him at her funeral and said I never wanted to talk to him again… I blamed him for her death. And I think he blamed himself as well. That's why he eventually went after Grindelwald towards the end of the second Great War. Not to put a stop to a dark wizard who was threatening the world, but for revenge… But in the end, Albus showed just how great he was. He refused to kill him. I couldn't have done it. Let him live. But Albus did. Until his last day, he continued to refuse to take a life. Because to him, life truly was a precious gift. If any of you take anything from the way my brother lived, take that."
Aberforth then leaned down and kissed the closed lid of the casket before turned and walking away.
Professor McGonagall was next to step up and say something. She talked about his great work as a teacher and as the head of the school.
A few others that had known Dumbledore over the years came up and said something before finally, Harry got up from his seat and stood next to the casket.
"I haven't really known the Headmaster as long as pretty much everyone else here," Harry said. "The first time I ever saw him was his Chocolate Frog card on the train at the beginning of my first year. Then that night, after the sorting and when the Welcoming Feast started, I thought him quite mad when he started speaking nonsense. I would later find out that was his special phrase to let the school elves know that it was time to serve dinner to everyone. Though, the first time I ever actually had a conversation with Professor Dumbledore was a few nights after Christmas that year… I, um… I was sort of sneaking around the castle at night, and ending up in a classroom that was empty except for a mirror. But it wasn't a normal mirror. Whenever I looked into it, I could see my family standing behind me. Mum. Dad. Grandparents and aunts and uncles I had never met.
"Night after night I went back, just so I could see what the family I never had looked like. Then one night, while I was sitting on the floor, wrapped up in my inv… In my cloak, Professor Dumbledore appeared. I think he was there the whole time that night, waiting for me because he knew I was going there. He told me that the mirror only showed what one truly desired. Which is why I kept seeing my family. Professor Dumbledore then told me that it never does well for one to dwell on the past, and to always look forward towards the future. And he was right."
Harry then let out a little chuckle and said, "I remember that just before I left that room that night, I asked him what he saw when he looked into the mirror… Socks, he said. He said one can never have too many pairs of socks."
This brought about a small chuckle from everyone gathered. Everyone except for Aberforth, who knew what Dumbledore really saw in the mirror. Their sister forgiving him.
"Albus Percival Wulfric Brian Dumbledore was an odd man," Harry continued a moment later. "And despite some of the mistakes he made in his life regarding me, I will always remember him as not only a great man, but also as the man who helped bring me back into the world I was born in to. Because if not for that, not only would I have never met the people who have became my best friends…"
Both Hermione and Neville smiled slightly at the comment.
"… But I also would never have gotten my parents back."
Harry then quickly rushed over to his parents, and the three of them shared a very tight hug and started to cry.
A/N: A short chapter, I know. But it just felt like the right place to end it.