Dying embers of a brilliant sunset lit the stone path as a tall, black haired man wound along toward a looming weeping willow. He could see his destination through the gathering dusk, but didn't hasten to quicken his pace. His thoughts were disconnected, as if a part of them were missing, and the thoughts remaining were struggling to find their place in this new, unfamiliar order.
Beneath the weeping willow now he sat, looking over his shoulder to be sure he was alone. He sat in silence, watching as the sun faded into darkness, searching for the words he couldn't seem to find. Finally, the man ruffled his messy black hair, took a long, deep breath, and began to speak:
Hey Dad. You probably thought everyone had left; had gone home, but I wanted to talk to you alone for a while. You see, there are still some things I want to say, but I'm not quite sure how to say them.
They said goodbye to a hero today, you know. There was a huge memorial service, attended by nearly all of wizarding Britain. You should have seen the crowd—or maybe you did. I don't know whether you showed up or not. You always did know more about those things than I.
The speeches seemed to last forever. It seemed like everyone had something to say. Everyone wanted to talk about their hero, and everyone wanted to say goodbye.
I didn't speak. Neither did James or Lily. They asked us to, but we all said no. We let those who knew the hero they were honoring speak because we never did. It wouldn't have been right to pretend.
Everyone told us we had to have the public memorial service. They said we owed it to the wizarding public to let them say goodbye, but that wasn't what we wanted. So after it was over; after the speeches and the empty words, the tears and the gaudy statues, they all left. James, Lily and I, along with all our children, and with the Weasleys, went back to the Burrow and had the real funeral. We decided that this was where it should be: Right here where mom was buried, under the weeping willow.
Now James and Lily and I all spoke. Now those who were most affected let themselves remember the man they had loved. Everyone here had something to say too, but their words weren't empty. Their words were full of love.
You see, the world buried a hero today, but we buried our Dad.
I wonder if you heard what I said. I could have gone on for hours about what a great Dad you were, and how much I'm going to miss you, but I didn't. Instead, I told them about the time you caught me sneaking your Firebolt from the broom shed. Do you remember? I was only nine and wasn't allowed to fly anything without supervision, and the Firebolt was off limits no matter what, but James had dared me to do it. I thought I was going to be in so much trouble, but you just grabbed another broom from the shed, jumped on, and told me to get a head start. I'll never forget that night, Dad: The feeling of the wind on my face, with you flying beside me. We stayed out all night, racing for a while, then slowing down and just flying through the night, and into the sunrise. I've never forgotten how I felt that night: So happy, so alive, so free, and so loved…
I wonder, did anyone ever make you feel like that? Did anyone ever let you fly until sunrise?
I know they probably didn't. I know your childhood was much different than mine. I wish things had been different for you dad, but life didn't turn out so bad in the end, did it?
I could have gone on forever about that night, and about other times, but I wasn't the only one with a story to tell. I wasn't the only one who had been loved by you.
Even little Harry—Longbottom, not Weasley—went up and said something about his favorite Grandfather. You know, he's only seven but I think he made everyone there cry. Except Uncle Ron and Aunt Hermione. I hadn't seen them cry all day. They actually looked quite cheerful. At one point, they started laughing pretty hard so I went over and asked what was so funny.
They told me they were reminiscing about Hogwarts. I didn't really catch the story because they were laughing so hard, but it was something about a dragon and the astronomy tower, maybe? Anyway, I asked them to keep it down because it was, after all, a funeral, but they just kept laughing.
Finally Ron explained and I wasn't so mad anymore. He said "We've been expecting this Al, ever since your mum died last year. He never did like to be away from her for very long. And besides, he lived much longer than even Ludo Bagman would have bet." (Aunt Hermione hit him when he said this. Who's Ludo Bagman?) "Anyway, Al," he said, "He had a good long life, but there were a lot of people waiting for him to come home. Of course we're going to miss him, but we'll see him again soon."
I guess he was right. I never really thought about it like that, but then, like I said, you always did know more about that sort of thing than I did.
Anyway, Abby's calling for me from the house. I guess my children are leaving now and they want to say goodbye. I still can't believe I had four kids and only Artie got our eyes. I still can't believe they're grown and starting families of their own. I wonder what Artie will do when his son tries to sneak a broom from the shed late at night. Do you think he'll let him fly until sunrise? God, I hope so.
I should go now, but I guess I just wanted to say that I love you. I'm going to miss you, but I'm happy you finally got to go home.
I guess I just wanted to say that they buried a hero today, Dad, but we didn't, James, Lily and I: We buried our Dad.