The Burrow: Harry Says a Few Words
My first impulse was to talk a bit about my own feelings regarding Dumbledore, but I realized that I simply could not divorce my feelings from Harry’s experiences. Naturally, having witnessed everything through the eyes of a bespectacled teenage boy, I couldn’t help but put this in the context of what Harry might have said at Dumbledore’s funeral if he had been given time to gather his thoughts and an opportunity to take the podium. It’s short, it’s sweet, and in my imagination, it might have gone a little like this…
Clearing her throat and composing herself, McGonagall addressed the congregation in a somber voice. “Harry Potter has just informed me that he wishes to say a few words,” she said, and turning to Harry, she placed a hand on his shoulder. “Go on, Harry,” she said encouragingly.
Harry returned a half-hearted smile and stepped onto the platform beside her despite an almost irresistible urge to turn back and mourn by himself on his four-poster bed. A defiant desire to perpetuate something other than the sentimentalist remembrances of shallow wizards glued him to the spot and, feeling his hands shake with weariness, he gripped the sides of the podium to steady himself and drew a deep breath.
“I thought I’d be more nervous,” he began mildly, “standing here before a group of people who have known Professor Dumbledore for so much longer than I have. You’re his equals, his colleagues, his superiors, even. Who am I but just one of his students?” He gazed down into the first few rows of attendees. “The thing is, he was more than a headmaster to me. He was a mentor, a friend. So despite being just one of his pupils, I thought it was my duty to tell you… how lucky you’ve all been to be in Dumbledore’s acquaintance for longer than six years. It’s a chance I wish I’d had.”
Harry loosened his tie and regarded a little tufty-haired man in black, sitting in the front row. “A few moments ago, we listened to many of the fine points of Dumbledore’s career and learned about his lifetime achievements. We can all agree he led an impressive life. The thing is… I really don’t know anything about his accolades. Sure, he was awarded Order of Merlin, first class, but I’d be lying if I said that meant anything to me. To put it plainly, that’s not the Dumbledore I knew. And I can’t help thinking that there’s a reason why he never showed me that side of himself.
“The Dumbledore I knew was so–” his voice faltering, Harry paused and glanced down for a moment, choosing his words carefully, “–human.”
Behind him, he heard McGonagall sniffle, a sound that made his throat tighten, but he hastily forced the sensation back down into his stomach.
“And yet to say he was wise doesn’t quite do him justice, does it?” Harry murmured, almost to himself. “It seemed supernatural and otherworldly, the way he just knew things. He’d look at you, and you could lie to his face, but you just knew he could see the truth in you as if you were wearing it on your skin like a shirt.” Harry smiled and added, “I know this, of course, from personal experience.” At this, soft chuckles rippled throughout the crowd and, catching Ron’s knowing eye, he laughed in spite of himself. “By all accounts I should have been expelled a long time ago. Either I was utter rubbish at being bad or Dumbledore was too trusting…”
His voice came to an abrupt stop and a startled silence fell upon the crowd. Suddenly, it seemed all moisture had gone from his lips and headed straight for his eyes as he fought against the urge to slander Snape in front of the entire congregation. But somehow he knew that Dumbledore would not have approved if Harry gave in to the temptation. It wouldn’t be of use to anyone if he dwelled on Dumbledore’s death. Harry was there to celebrate his life. In a superhuman effort to lift the tension that his statement had brought upon them all, Harry drew in a deep breath and tried to collect his thoughts and quiet his raging spirit.
Then, as though someone else were speaking through him, the right words began to fall from Harry’s lips.
“I’m sure a lot of people here are angry at what happened. I am too. And frustrated because… because Dumbledore’s biggest fault was perhaps also his greatest quality. You see, I can never remember a time when he didn’t always choose to believe in the goodness of people. He was determined to see the best in everyone, and, though I can only account for myself, I feel sometimes as though he brought out the best in me simply by saying it was there. Even at the end of his life–”
Harry’s breath hitched and he swallowed hard, straining against whatever was painfully lodged in his throat.
“Even at the end of his life,” he repeated softly, “he was arguing for a person’s right to a second chance.” Scanning the crowd for Malfoy’s face, Harry saw that he had not come.
He let out a gust of air. “You know… there is something to be said for being one of Dumbledore’s students instead of one of his peers, because it means that when he talks… well… you sort of have to listen,” Harry explained soberly, “and I’m glad I paid attention.
“He told me that our choices define us,” he said, his voice laced with conviction. He looked straight at Ron and Hermione. “That what matters most about a person is not where they came from, how much money they have, or the purity of their blood–but the strength of their desire to do the right thing.” Shifting his gaze to Neville and Luna, Harry added, “that a person’s worth can be measured by loyalty and bravery…”
His eyes falling on Ginny’s tear-streaked face, he whispered, “…and that love does conquer all.”
Many in attendance were now crying, especially Hogwarts students who had come for some sense of closure and a means to make sense of the tragedy that happened in the Astronomy Tower only days ago. His eulogy was the catharsis of the entire student body, and, blinking back tears himself, for a moment Harry felt as though, after today, his healing could finally begin.
Clearing his throat, he poised himself to say one final thing.
“Before I go, I want to take this moment to remind us all that Dumbledore isn’t really gone. As long as we continue to show our faith in the things he believed in, he’ll never leave us,” he asserted, fighting desperately to trust his words as he spoke them. “We’re all standing on the edge of dark days,” Harry continued in a far-off voice, “and I know he’d want me to pass on the greatest lesson he has ever given me–one that will see us through the difficult times ahead and any dangers destiny will throw at us…”
A tear slid down Harry’s face, and he lifted his emerald eyes to the sky.
“There’s always hope.”
Rest in Peace, Albus Dumbledore. Until we meet again.