Sunrise over Hogwarts
The grounds of Hogwarts had not been this crowded
in hundreds of years. Yet not a single sound broke through the pre-dawn quiet.
The rows and rows of golden benches covered virtually every inch of the sloping green lawns surrounding the castle, and every single one of them was filled. They stared silently forwards, looking pale, ashen-faced, and shocked. Furthermore, on the outskirts of this vast crowd stood swarms of reporters and camera crews, representing every nationality and every extraterrestrial settlement. The eyes of all humanity were trained on this spot.
Every one of the people present was unable to erase the memory of that newscast of three days previously. In many ways, it was cause to rejoice, for the Circle of the New Birth of Sorcery was no more. And yet, the tone of the announcement had been grave and somber. It spoke of loss.
“There were no witnesses to what transpired between Albus Potter and Scorpius Malfoy within the center of Sirius, but many observed dramatic disturbances to the star. Reports say that the star began to pulse, grew brighter, contracted in on itself, and then abruptly reverted to its previous state. There has been no sign of Malfoy or Victoria Perfectus. However, sources have confirmed that Albus Potter has been recovered, suspended within a weak magical shield of energy and rescued from space just before the protective charm broke. Attempts to revive Potter were unsuccessful.”
Suddenly, there was a flurry of movement. People on the outer sections of the seated crowd were turning their heads. People gaped, watching in horror and astonishment, as though the news hadn’t been real to them until this moment. Six figures were moving slowly along a wide aisle, dressed in simple black suits: Nabus, Rasputin, Dolbri, Rob, Kramer, and James. Floating between them, drifting gently up and down as it passed, was a large, white capsule.
The silence broke. People were gasping, sobbing, burying their faces in their arms. Others simply stared in wide-eyed silence, unable to tear their gazes away from the place where their hero lay.
After what felt like an eternity, the six pallbearers reached a large, empty circle in the center of the crowd, and the floating casket came to rest in the center. Each of them turned away at once, unable to look any longer, and stepped backwards.
There was a pause. Then, Nabus stepped forward once more, and began to speak.
“I am sure that every one of you here is now aware of the circumstances surrounding Albus Potter’s final act. You understand what he was fighting for, and what he was up against. We may never know what truly happened, but we don’t really need to. We already understand everything that matters. The young man lying before us laid down his life for all of us. For every last person in existence. For the continuing wellbeing of all magic. If there has ever been a more valiant individual in history, I am unaware of it. His sacrifice saved the universe.”
Nabus stepped back, and a few seconds later, Rasputin moved into the center.
“Albus Potter was more than a noble and valiant individual. He was someone who could unfailingly spot the good in others, however deeply it may be hidden. For many years, I was Malfoy’s partner. He imprisoned me when I refused to continue to play a part in his evils. I never thought that I would be released from the dungeons of Victoria Perfectus. But Albus saw me for what I was, when even I was unable to do so. He gave me back my freedom. He gave me back my life. It’s no surprise to find that he gave life back to all of you, too. Humanity has a second chance. The magnitude of his sacrifice, of his courage and his compassion, is beyond any of our comprehension.”
As Rasputin returned to his place, Dolbri spoke up.
“As the Secretary-General of the United Nations, I understand the stupendous size of our world. We have come so far, and achieved so much. And now, we have gathered to honor the spirit of one whose selfless actions ensured that the world will survive. Never in the history of our society has anyone been faced with such a challenge. I don’t believe that anyone else alive today would have been capable of meeting it. Thanks to his actions, our age of prosperity and harmony shall not die.”
Now, Rob began to speak.
“I may not be a famous leader or have magical powers, but I think that’s to my advantage as I stand here today. Why? Because I can see things for what they are in the eyes of the masses. People like me are the majority. And when I look at what Albus Potter did for us all…well, it just can’t be put into words, the size of that deed. I was the first to see him when he arrived in this time period, and I understood then and there that he was special. He was practical. He always had a feeling for what was right. Imagine what the world would be like if we had more people with those kinds of principles. As it is, he made a huge difference.”
And as Rob retreated back a few steps, Kramer took his place. Overcome with emotion, it was a few moments before he was able to start speaking.
“Albus was the best friend I ever had.” he said shakily. “He eased my pain before he even knew it existed. He always looked out for me, respected me, and showed me kindness. Whenever we were together, we worked as a team until he knew he had no choice but to face the danger alone. When I last saw him, he was leaving our Axis to do battle with the Stingers and proceed to Victoria Perfectus. I…I knew it might be the last time I would see him alive. But I never doubted that he would triumph, one way or the other. Whichever way you look at it, Albus still won the battle. I may never be able to talk to him again, but our friendship can never perish.”
Then, while Kramer turned and walked away, James walked forward. He was shaking from head to foot, and was staring at the ground. Finally, he opened his mouth.
“Albus…I’m…I’m so sorry. I’m sorry about everything.” said James in a choked, hoarse mutter. “I went against your instincts so many times, from the moment that Malfoy lured us into the Forbidden Forest. And you paid for my mistakes. We all did. I’m proud of my free spirit, but I’m not proud of my ability to make decisions. I should have known that it would end up this way…you giving up your life for the greater good. You’re a better person than I am.
“But you know what? In spite of all my stupid mistakes, it didn’t stop you from doing what was right. You are our father’s son, plain and simple. And I’ll say this, too…all that power you had at your command…it would have corrupted any other wizard. It didn’t change you at all. Maybe that’s another reason you sacrificed yourself…to stop that power from doing any harm. I wouldn’t doubt it for a second. That’s the kind of thing that you would have done. It’s why we’re still standing here.”
James fell silent, then trudged back into place, his eyes streaming.
The sun was now rising proper, casting a purplish glow over the scene. There was complete silence once more. Nobody spoke. Nobody moved.
Then, suddenly, the white casket was engulfed in a tower of flames. People gasped; those at the front shielded their faces against a blast of heat. The fire swirled and spiraled, growing higher and higher. For a split second, a blazing stag seemed to bound happily through the air. Then, the flames were gone, and in their place was a magnificent marble tomb, almost identical to that of the ancient headmaster, Professor Dumbledore, standing a few hundred yards away.
Nobody left their seats. Everyone sat there, gazing up at the spectacular monument. Everything had come full circle. After having been taken away from Hogwarts over two thousand years ago, Albus Potter would now rest on the school grounds.
When the crowd of people finally began to make their way towards the towers of Hogsmeade, a few figures in the center of the group did not follow. They continued to sit in the benches, staring at the white tomb. When at last grounds grew still, the sun was now high in the sky. At last, one of them spoke.
“James…” said Nabus slowly, looking thoughtfully at him, “you are far more intelligent than you gave yourself credit for in your speech.”
“What do you mean?” said James in confusion.
“That last bit you said. The part about why you suspect Albus sacrificed himself.” said Nabus. “I think you may be exactly right.”
“You mean…” said Rose, staring at the former leader of the Feather of Fawkes through wide eyes, “You think…you think he chose to die?”
“It would explain a lot.” said Rasputin.
Lily, Hugo, and Kramer sat rigid, silent tears pouring down their cheeks. James stared at the white tomb, and whispered, “You’re really something, Al.”
“He managed to do something that has never happened in a million years.” said Nabus. “He steered us through the end of Sirius’s cycle with our world intact.”
“What do you think the future will hold?” said Rasputin.
“I think,” said Rose, turning and looking thoughtfully over the sloping lawns, “That he’s proven that this future society is just getting started.”
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