There was an oddly comforting silence that had settled over the Great Hall, like a whisper just waiting at somebody's lips.
Nobody dared to move and break the spell that had, metaphorically, been cast. The students sat, huddled, at one table - the Order and the residents of Hogsmeade residing on another - and the other two were left for the dead, the dying, and their families.
"Ahem," Professor McGonagall coughed, looking out at the crowd. Almost instantaneously, heads whipped around to face her. The Transfiguration Mistress blinked.
There was another pause, as though Minerva was desperately considering backing out of the contract she had, metaphorically, signed when she broke the silence. Sighing, she straightened her hat (amazingly, still intact) and addressed the fighters of the Battle of Hogwarts.
"I would first like to give my sympathy to those of you who have... lost family members in this tragic time. I fully believe that we all, in turn, share your grief." A few sniffles echoed around the room.
"Second of all, I would like to congratulate you all. It has been a struggle, these past few hours alone, that we have all had to face. For that, each and every one of you should at least feel some accomplishment. Hogwarts, thanks to you, is still standing.
"But lastly, I bring your attention to another pressing matter. A matter much like me, or yourselves, and a matter far braver than this war should've allowed."
There was a murmur from the crowd.
"I know he had not been the only one, but a boy died here, in this very room, tonight. He was seventeen years old. He was a child far younger than most of you gathered here now, but he was a hero. And a hero until the end.
"But I urge each and every one of you to forget this. Forget that Harry Potter was the Boy-Who-Lived - forget that a lot of you have known his name since birth. Forget - it - all.
"Instead, I want you to remember the trivial things that made our dead special. I want you to remember their quirks, and their faults, and everything that made the men, women and children who died here today memorable.
"Tonight, people have died. But tomorrow, and the next day, and the next, they will continue to live through us."
The silence had returned.
Then there was a rustle of movement from the old Gryffindor table, and one girl stood up, her dark hair braided down her back. "If there was anything Colin Creevy lived for, it was his photographs. We," she looked down at her twin sister, who smiled encouragingly, "We're going to set up a fund to see if we can get a gallery of his pictures. They are amazing. Just like Colin was." Padma sat down, and Parvati patted her back consolingly.
"Thank you, Miss Patil," Minerva said, and suddenly people all over the Great Hall were standing up, declaring in loud voices what they loved most about their friends.
"Emilia loved chocolate, but would never go near hot chocolate. We spent eight years trying to convince her to drink it," one boy said from the Hufflepuff house table. Minerva smiled at the boy she once taught.
"Sam never used to be able to tie his shoelaces. He was brilliant at Charms and Potions, but Muggle shoelaces? He was terrible," another boy said from the old Hufflepuff table, smiling broadly, albeit more than a little sadly. A few of the war heroes chuckled.
"Diane made a point of always turning up late to Transfiguration to annoy Professor McGonagall when we were at school," a petite, raven-haired girl said from where her sister lay with the dead, smiling.
"Remus and Dora always bet against the outcome of various Quidditch matches, and Remus always lost," Andromeda Tonks whispered from where she stroked her daughter's violently pink hair.
"Evangeline used to say that she would live forever because she laughed so much," a sad voice said from where the Hogsmeade residents were assembled. The man's wedding ring rebounded off the lights and shimmered.
"Harry's favourite colour was blue, because it reminded him of flying and freedom," a weak yet determined voice announced from the Gryffindor table.
"I never knew that," her brother said gravely, looking to a bushy-haired witch beside him for comfort. They clung to each other like life lines, just trying to stay afloat. Minerva felt tears prick at the corners of her eyes, but she didn't bother to brush them away and appear insensitive.
There were a few more conversations held as people remembered their friends, their partners, their enemies and their families.
But soon, another silence settled over the heroes of Hogwarts as the young and the old joined together in their quiet mourning, nobody daring to break the spell once more.
"Thank you," Minerva McGonagall whispered, but nobody heard her - if Albus had been there, he would've heard and gave her a twinkling smile. But he was gone like so many others, and so, the new Headmistress suffered alone, metaphorically, because she wasn't alone. There were hundreds of people mourning their devastating losses just like her. But for all their comforting smiles and pats, the Great Hall might as well have been empty.
And, metaphorically, the spell was once more broken as cries filled the air.
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