Part 9 - The Celebration
The fire rose up from the depths of the pit built especially for the ceremony. Bright sparks of purple, gold and blue danced along the tips of the flames, while an orange haze illuminated the stage erected in the middle of the arena. Witches and wizards from all over Europe stood in attendance, the excited babble ringing loud enough to be heard over the deep booms the firecrackers made as they lit up the sky.
This was a day of celebration. A day to honor the heroes, the dead and the survivors. Peace had come to the wizarding world, and this was the event of the century, especially to the group of people who stood next to the stage. They were the true heroes; the ones who actually fought for the freedom everyone in the arena were celebrating.
A multitude of flowers rained down from the skies, scattering their petals over the ground while Molly Weasley fussed over her children, straightening Ron's coat and Percy's collar. "Don't slouch, Ron," she said with a distracted sigh as she gave George's attire a weary glance. "We are Weasleys and we are proud of it. Never forget that."
"Yes Mum," George and Charlie said with rolled eyes and in unison. Molly smiled at the amazed look George gave his brother, but before a fight could break out, Fleur uttered a sharp moan. Molly and Bill were at her side in an instant.
"It eez nothing," Fleur said with a shaky smile. "The baby, he is strong."
"Still sure it will be a boy?" Andromeda Tonks said, as she came up to join them. Fleur nodded while Ginny came up to take Teddy into her arms.
"He's grown so much," Ginny said with a smile at the baby. She bounced him as she looked up at his grandmother. "I can't get over how much he looks like Tonks."
"That he does," Andromeda said, her own smile gracing her lovely features. "He does have his father's eyes though." The smile dimmed somewhat as she said, "I miss them so much."
"I know," Molly said quietly. They all fell into silence then. It seemed they had nothing more to say. The dull roar of the crowd seemed to magnify the sadness that enveloped the group by the stage, but the silence didn't last long. Three more people joined their group.
"He was right in there in middle of all that," Augusta Longbottom said. "Did you see how he stood right up to Voldemort?"
"Of course I did, Augusta," Minerva McGonagal said with a long-suffering sigh. "I was there, remember?"
"He wasn't afraid one bit, were you Neville?" Neville shook his head, while his grandmother went on blithely, "And then whap!" She swung her arms around to show them all how Neville killed the snake. Harry and Neville shared amused glances, as Augusta continued on with her story. "Just like his father. Neville showed them all."
"I'm kind of enjoying this," Neville leaned over to whisper to Harry and Ron. "She was always so disappointed in me when I was younger." He shrugged and said, "This is much better."
Harry and Ron both nodded vehemently, but then swung around when Ginny said, "What are ithey/i doing here?"
Narcissa Malfoy stood next to her husband with her hand on her son's shoulder. She held her head up proudly, but there was a noticeable difference in their attitudes. A difference that set them apart from the people who watched them with interest. Narcissa nodded regally at Molly and Andromeda, then turned with her family and walked toward the stands.
"Ladies and gentlemen," a voice boomed out over the crowds. It was apparent that the ceremony was about to begin, and all eyes turned to the stage. The Minister of Magic had to repeat himself several times before silence reigned, but the ceremony began shortly thereafter. Pictures of the slain were splashed across the sky, the images smiling and waving as if they were still here. Molly brought her hand to her mouth when her son's image made a goofy face. Tears welled up in her eyes, blinding her to everything but her pain.
Andromeda took Teddy from Ginny's arms and hugged him tight as his parents smiled at them from their photograph. Augusta put her arm around her friend's shoulder and handed her a lace handkerchief.
A moment of silence was conducted when the last photograph made its way across the sky. It was an eerie sound that pierced the souls of those who still grieved. But the moment soon erupted into cheers as pictures of Harry, Ron and Hermione rose up from the arena's floor.
Monica Granger and her husband stood quietly next to Arthur Weasley, honored that she and her husband were allowed to be among the celebration. "The only Muggles ever to grace this place," Arthur Weasley told them. She gripped Hermione's hand tightly as her daughter's image flashed across the sky. Her only daughter was a hero in the eyes of millions of people. The tears and the smile on Monica's face reflected her pride.
Hermione let go of her mother's hand and went to join her friends as they all walked up to the stage. The women in the group watched as their sons and daughters rose up from the stage on a pedestal. Harry, Ron, Hermione, Ginny, Luna, Neville and all the others who had fought bravely for the right to live their lives free of the fear brought on by the Dark Lord grasped hands and raised their arms high to announce the victory that was theirs. It was a triumphant moment, shadowed only by the memories of those who weren't there to celebrate.
The women smiled at each other amidst the deafening roar of the crowd. This was their defining moment as well, for they knew they had taught their children well. Another shower of petals rained down on them to herald the beginning of a new era and they linked their arms together when it came time for them to go up on the stage.
"Teach the children quietly
For some day our sons and daughters
Will rise up and fight while we stood still."
- Silent Running
Words by Mike Rutherford and Bryan Robertson