HP ficlet: Memorial Ceremony [Harry, general]
Title: Memorial Ceremony Author: celandineb Fandom: HP Characters: Harry Rating: general Length: 626 words Summary: Harry speaks at the ceremony unveiling the memorial to the fallen. Note: For quill_it prompt 72, "waste".
Harry had been dreading this day. Not the fact of it so much -- he'd come to terms with the necessity for some kind of a memorial -- but that he would have to give a speech. He had worked on it for weeks, and now held the parchment on which it was written, but he wasn't satisfied with what he planned to say.
He drifted along with the crowd walking through the Hogwarts grounds toward the site of the memorial stone. Ahead of him he overheard a pair of middle-aged witches bemoaning the waste of the battle, the damage to the castle, and most of all the deaths of its defenders.
The parchment in Harry's hand crackled as he gripped it more tightly.
"Where have you been, Potter?" demanded Professor McGonagall in a loud whisper as he arrived at the wooden stand that had been erected for the occasion. She reached as if she were going to straighten his robes or perhaps even smooth down his hair, but Harry stepped back.
"Just looking around a bit. You've done wonders in repairing everything," he said.
Her face softened fractionally. "Thank you. Now, take your seat. It's nearly time to start."
Harry was scheduled to be the third speaker. He gazed out over the crowd as first Minister Shacklebolt and then Headmistress McGonagall spoke. He saw Ron and Hermione near the front, smiling at him sympathetically. They knew how much he disliked the idea of giving a speech.
Scattered around were other faces Harry recognised, mostly former classmates, with a few professors and other older wizards.
At the conclusion of the applause for McGonagall, Harry rose and stepped to the lectern, smoothing out the crumpled piece parchment on its surface. He glanced down at it and shook his head. Looking up again he saw Hermione pointing at her throat and mouthing something. Oh yes. He hastily took his wand and cast the Sonorous charm.
" I had a speech prepared for you today," he said, slightly astonished by the volume of his voice and the way the crowd quieted to hear him, "but I don't think I want to read it to you now. As I was coming in, I heard someone say what a shame it was that there was any need to put up this memorial, what a waste of lives the battle had been. I don't believe the lives of any of those we are honouring today were wasted. Everyone who resisted Voldemort and his Death Eaters, to any extent, risked death. We all knew it, and we went ahead anyhow, because even death was better than the prospect of life in a world ruled by that foul madman.
"It is tragic that those who died fighting had no chance to enjoy what they fought to preserve, but their sacrifice was not a waste. I thank you all for coming today to show the honour and respect we all feel for them. "
Harry stopped. He was beginning to turn to look at McGonagall and see if he should sit down, or what, when the applause crashed over him. Half the audience was already on their feet, and the rest were rising as he watched. Hermione and Ron clapped frantically, and tears were running down Hermione's cheeks. Harry ended the Sonorous charm and bowed a little awkwardly to the crowd.
Sitting back down, he waited without paying much attention to the remainder of the ceremony, until with a flourish Hagrid removed the cloth that had been draped over the polished stone, letting the names carved on it be seen. All too many of them were familiar. Harry had meant every word he said earlier, yet grief lashed him again as if it were new.