The next morning the Great Hall was decorated half in black and half in silver and green, the Slytherin colours. All house-tables were gone and the benches faced the staff table at the front of the hall. At the Headmaster's place stood a painting showing Professor Snape in his laboratorium. In front of the table stood the coffin, draped in green and silver, the silver-coloured snake missing from the house banner.

Most of the seats were already taken and Harry could feel many eyes following him when he walked up to the front bench with Ron, Hermione, Ginny, Neville and Luna. They took their seats next to the members of the Order of the Phoenix. The atmosphere seemed to bristle from all the unspoken questions, and the humming of the voices behind him made him nervous.

But then the door of the antechamber opened and the teachers entered, led by Professor McGonagall. While the collegues sat down Minerva McGonagall remained standing at her customary place at the right hand of the Headmaster's chair. All of a sudden, it was absolutely quiet. All the eyes were fixed on her and Harry draw a deep breath. Her upright figure showed confidence and authority when she addressed the assembly in a serious voice. "The lioness is back", was the thought that filled Harry's heart and mind and he felt immensely relieved. When he shot a glance at Hermione he saw her sending a small smile back at him.

It was unlikely that there has been a speech held in this hall before to which the listeners payed such rapt attention as to the one Minerva McGonagall held now on the occasion of the funeral of her predecessor. She was well aware of the fact that all of the people assembled bore their own burden and many funerals would follow this first one. But none of the others who fell in the war against Voldemort had suffered such unjustice. In vivid words, the Headmistress explained the role that Severus Snape had played in the fight against the Dark Lord.

Harry was not simply drawn in by her words – instead he was overwhelmed by a wave of gratitude. Just a few days ago, he would have thought it an impossible dream to be siting here, alive, and next to his closest friends. And he felt so relieved that Professor McGonagall had taken on explaining to the wizarding society how he, Harry, had found out that Professor Snape was not responsible for the death of Albus Dumbledore. Of course, he would have to give his testimony at some Ministry committee sometime soon, but right now, it felt so good to be allowed to keep silent.

When the Headmistress had finished, Professor Slughorn and Draco Malfoy stepped out in front and lifted the coffin up to carry it outside. All the collegues and the assembly stood up and followed them in one long procession through the main entrance out of the castle. The school grounds lay under a bright summer sky, but the beauty of the day could not hide the many scars of destruction.

At the lakeshore, a dark granite block stood next to the tomb of Albus Dumbledore and the coffin of the Potions Professor, Head of Slytherin House and late Headmaster, laid to rest there. As soon as the last guests from the hall had arived at the shore, Minerva McGonagall raised her wand, almost unnoticed. And just like a year ago at the funeral of Professor Dumbledore white flames shot up around the coffin, the smoke spiralling up into the blue of the sky. Then, just as sudden as they had appeared, they were gone and a tomb of black granite could be seen instead.

A restrained murmur ran through the assembled crowd as everybody was deeply moved by the image that had been created in front of them. The new tomb seemed like a dark brother to its white neighbour. Both of them together gave the impression of something whole, something that was complete now, that had come to an end. And a first presentiment of peace and reconciliation filled the hearts of those already able to be comforted.