Chapter 26: Life Changes But it Never Ends
A few days later, I was sitting in the Slytherin Common Room with my friends. The word was that Longbottom was still in the Hospital wing mourning his father but no one said a word against him for no one knew what it was like. No one else had lost loved ones in Slytherin except for Fabian Goff whose best friend, Joel Haeden, had been killed in the battle. But I already knew that. I saw it.
It was curious that most Slytherins were not affected by the battle. Apparently there was outright distress in other Houses.
For example, in Hufflepuff, most students had a parent or relation that was brutally injured or murdered and the students were depressed. No one left the Hufflepuff Common Room and no one would talk to anyone.
In Ravenclaw, people were mourning their own loved ones as well as the loss of a seventh year girl, Harriet Dendle, who I realised was the girl who had been killed as she ran to Edward Lovett’s side.
Gryffindor had the most casualties. Most of them had lost at least one loved one and others had been completely orphaned. They were mourning the loss of half of their seventh year students including Edward Lovett, The Head Boy.
But the huge majority of Slytherin’s were untouched. This made us exceedingly unpopular with the other Houses. Friendships had been severed.
The Slytherins had had free time for a few weeks now and had begun to get restless and bored about one week after the battle. At two weeks, desperate for information. And now? Just miserable.
Depression had started to seep through the walls and out of the furniture. I felt it trying to break through my skin but I fought it. I thought of Lily whenever a sensation of impending doom fell over me. When my mind was so crammed with worry, with mourning, with sadness, with the looming threat of Voldemort and the responsibility of stopping Him, I thought of Lily.
Today, people were restless with lack of information again. Dumbledore was to attend a hearing at the Ministry of Magic today to determine whether Hogwarts would close or remain open and people were waiting with baited breath to hear the outcome.
‘I wonder when the funeral will be,’ Avery pondered out loud.
‘Dumbledore said that it would be held a day or two after the hearing,’ I stated absently. None of us were really there in the room.
We fell silent again. A group of fifth years moped on past.
Regina leaned forward on the green couch she was sitting on and rested her head on her hands and her elbows on her crossed legs. She spoke quietly for we were the only people in the Common Room having a conversation. ‘What do we think a joint funeral will be like?’
‘I don’t know. Maybe… no, I don’t know,’ Infirmos tried.
‘It’s a strange concept,’ I nodded.
‘Yeah,’ Regina said. ‘Gum anyone?’
‘Yes,’ Infirmos agreed.
Archemus and I stayed silent and I only half heard the two discussing a joint funeral.
An hour or so later, we were all sitting in exactly the same spot, not talking, just worrying about Hogwarts closing. It was silent in the common room. The tension was becoming unbearable. You could have cut it with a knife if you had one. Pent up tension and worry threatened to explode from within me but I pushed it down. I pushed it down with an image of the sweet face of my best friend, Lily.
Think of Lily, think of Lily, think of Lily!
Professor Slughorn stumbled through the Entrance to the Common Room and fell over in his haste. We stood up amongst other people in fright and looked down at him in alarm.
He scrambled to his feet and waved a piece of parchment around over his head, he did a little jog as he struggled to keep his feet still.
‘Hogwarts is open! Hogwarts is saved!’ he yelled.
The Common Room was silent for a moment then…
‘I KNEW DUMBLEDORE COULD DO IT!’
Outbreaks of excited shouts and relieved laughter exploded around the room and Infirmos pulled us all into a group hug. He tousled my hair playfully and we laughed joyously as we celebrated the prospect of another year at Hogwarts.
‘Someone go get some food!’ someone yelled.
A couple of people headed out of the Common Room at a run. Everyone was still celebrating when they came back a few minutes later carrying huge trays laden with food. I supposed they’d been down to the kitchens to ask the House Elves to cook them food. Still, it was exceedingly fast.
‘Tuck in!’ someone yelled.
We dived into the food and ate and celebrated all night long. But something was keeping me from really having a good time. A nagging thought was pushing at the back of my mind. I put on a brave face though; I smiled and laughed along with everyone else but I knew that this wasn’t the end of the battle against Voldemort. It was the beginning.
Days later, the white plastic of a chair was hard against my back so I shifted my position, trying in vain to get more comfortable. It was a clear day; not a cloud was to be seen. The sky was a beautiful, pleasant blue and part of me hated the sky for it. Today was a day of mourning and sunshine represented happiness. It was wrong.
I glared at the blaring sun in contempt until I found it was too much for my eyes and turned to glare at the blue sky.
My gaze shifted to the people sitting beside me. A middle-aged woman with dark hair that was greying at the roots was crying silently into a handkerchief. Her shoulders shook as she wept and a trembling gasp escaped her mouth as she drew in a large breath. A man sat on her other side patting her awkwardly on the back as he stared out at the lake. His face was stony, angry. A single tear escaped his eye.
I gulped back a sob as my throat began to sting and I turned back to the front.
Regina, Infirmos and Archemus sat on my other side. The boys were silent and sat staring around them at the hundreds of people gathered here to mourn the loss of their families. We sat on hard plastic chairs like the ones decorated for outside weddings except… they were left plain… as if, on this lovely day, they were attempting to dampen the mood and make it more funeral-like. The chairs faced the lake where a podium stood just off the shore where Dumbledore would surely speak soon.
Regina was staring straight ahead. Her body was rigid and still. She didn’t move or speak or even twitch. She held a silent vigil.
The air was filled with sobs and cries as people mourned and grieved for the lost members of their family. Each sob, each cry, each sniff ripped at my heart. If anyone bothered to notice they would see my heart shattering into a thousand pieces and littering the ground with shards of glass. Because that’s what hearts are made of right? Fragile, frail, easily-broken glass.
Every person was wound up in their own world, grieving for their own cause, grieving for now, not even seeing the people around them. Their eyes were clouded with sorrow, tears blinded them, making them ignorant. And, in this case, I’d go so far as to say that the old saying ‘ignorance is bliss’ rang true.
But I saw much more than the people around me. Much more than the white marble coffins lining the lake. I grieved for more than the people who died in the Battle, for more than now. My heart shattered for the future and the others I knew would die. My eyes were clear. Clear of anything blocking my sight from the dark, twisting path in front of me that was the future. I had been set apart from everyone else. I hated myself for not mourning the people who filled the coffins but my heart was already breaking for the people whose loved ones would die in the near future.
New tears stung my eyes and my throat ached with the struggle of not crying. I knew that I did care about the people who died. I just couldn’t bring myself to mourn them. For many more would die and many more would grieve. This was just the beginning.
Dumbledore stepped up to the podium and cleared his throat. People made an effort to stop crying, sniffing, hiccupping or at least stifle it enough that it did not interrupt the Headmaster.
‘Today…’ he paused. ‘Today, is a day of grieving. We grieve for our loved ones and those who have lost their loved ones.’ He spoke slowly and clearly, sorrow and sympathy making his voice thick. ‘We will hold a minute’s silence in respect. I suggest you use this time to reflect on happy memories of the past for the dead to take with them as they go… on.’
He stepped away from the podium and bowed his head. There was a ripple effect as the people in the front row did the same and the rows behind followed suit.
The minute went for a lifetime. I could no longer resist and tears streamed down my cheeks and dropped onto my trousers that it would appear I stared so intently at. When really, my eyes were squeezed shut in pain as my throat throbbed.
Think of Lily! Think of Lily! She’s smiling at you! You’ve said something funny!
Before I could stop myself I smiled a wet smile. My eyes were still tight shut and tears still ran down my cheeks but they were caught in the smiling line of my lips
‘Thank you. I will now read the names of the lost. I implore you to remember how honourably they died, resisting Voldemort and protecting Hogwarts. They fought valiantly.’ He began the list of names. ‘Lisa Anderson.’
A marble coffin made a crunching sound as it was levitated into the air. Mermaids began to sing from just under the surface. From on top of the water all one could see was a shining green mass. A tail flicked and reflected the sun into my eyes and I tore my eyes away and rubbed them in pain. I looked back quickly. They were still there singing their slow, haunting song. Grey, thundering clouds rolled over too quickly to be natural.
This is better.
There was a splash as the coffin splashed into the lake and I snapped my head around at the sound. A strangled cry came from the back and someone began running down the aisle to the front. A man grabbed the woman and restrained her, talking to her softly while sobbing himself.
The mermaids continued to sing as Dumbledore read names and more coffins splashed into the lake.
The woman in front of me stood up slowly. She wasn’t crying from what I could see from the back. She started to speak but when she spoke her voice was husky and other worldly. Her head and neck were rigid as she stared at Dumbledore. The merpeople stopped their singing and the clouds broke. Rain came pouring down, soaking us all within seconds as thunder and lightning assaulted the dark sky.
‘When the seventh moon rises, those who are dead will rise to serve Him! They will turn on you at his word and fill their coffins with your bodies!’ The woman spoke in a terrifyingly raspy voice that was somehow deafening over the thunderous roars of the sky and the deafening splashes of fat droplets smashing the surface of the lake.
Everyone’s heads were turned towards the woman. They stared at her, too terrified to move. Too scared to cast a spell that kept them dry. Too horrified, perhaps, to even realise they were wet.
As suddenly as it had begun, the storm was over and the clouds rolled away unnaturally quickly, revealing the beautiful, clear, blue sky once again. The woman coughed and looked around innocently as if she had no idea why she was standing up or why we were all staring at her. There was no sound.
I’d seen this before. This was a Seer making a prophecy. The old woman beside her grabbed hold of her arm and pulled her back into her chair. I saw her ears flush red as she sat back down.
Dumbledore stayed silent for a moment. All of us were trying to think about what that could mean.
Dumbledore decided to continue. He read another name and the coffin rose and splashed into the lake. The mermaids resumed their song and the Headmaster continued as if nothing had happened and people followed his lead. The mood went from frightened and subdued to sad and thick with sorrow again.
A sob from the front row. I looked over and saw the blonde, back of Fabian Goff’s head. His shoulders shook as he cried. I wrenched my eyes away and turned back to Dumbledore as he continued.
The prophecy played itself over and over in my head. What could it mean?
When the seventh moon rises, those who are dead will rise to serve Him! They will turn on you at his word and fill the coffins with your bodies.