He walks between the slabs of white speckled marble, looking at the names, a large bunch of muggle store bought white roses gripped tightly in one hand. He could have conjured them and made them last forever and a day, but he prefers the idea that these would die soon and he’d have to come back and replace them again and again. Only the image of the brown, dead flowers, a stark contrast against the pure white stone is what would make him coming back.
He sees the slab marked Neville Longbottom and stops. He remembers how Neville died a hero’s death, defending a badly wounded Professor McGonagall. One minute he was alive, yelling curses and deflecting hexes, the next he was sprawled at their feet, eyes narrowed, mouth set, unmoving. For all they ignored him, forgot him, teased him, he would be missed now.
He lays down one white rose for a scared, taunted little boy who grew into a brave man.
Next, he sees the resting place of Zachariah Smith. The smarmy Hufflepuff was one of the first to go to battle, wanting to avenge the death of his girlfriend, Susan Bones. For all his valour and charm, he was also one of the first to die, victim if a slashing curse to the throat, sent by Walden MacNair. The young couple were buried side by side.
He lays down two white roses for two people who had found love and paid the price.
Beside them he sees another familiar name; Professor Flitwick. Known to his colleagues as Filius, he had lead the group who stayed behind to protect and defend Hogwarts and her many treasures. No one knew exactly what had happened to him – no one had been watching, too concerned with themselves. His body, found by the return victors of another battle, lay in a crumpled heap at the bottom of the main staircase. The death of that small, kind little man tears a hole in his heart.
He lays down one white rose for the man who showed generations that there was fun to be had with magic.
Three rows down, twenty eight roses later, he sees a name that makes him stop in his tracks; Blaise Zabini. He may have been Slytherin, but he was one of the decent ones, one of those who rejected pure-blooded ideals. On the eve of the battle, when people were panicking and everyone was so sure that they were going to die the next day, he walked into the Great Hall where forty people – students, teachers, Order members, civilians – were screaming at each other, followed by a small army of house elves all bearing trays of Firewhiskey, butterbeer and other alcoholic drinks. He sat in one of the chairs, kicked his feet up on the table and announced “Well, if we’re all going to die tomorrow, then I think this is the perfect time to get good and drunk, don’t you?” Everyone did. He was killed by his Death Eater mother a little over twelve hours later.
He lays down one white rose for the boy who made him laugh when he just wanted to cry.
Draco Malfoy lies next to Blaise. Even in death, he can’t bring himself to like the boy. Malfoy may have turned his back on his father and his Lord and been instrumental in bringing about their downfall; he may have killed his father who was intent on trying to murder Hermione Granger, but seven years of school-boy fighting was hard to forget. In his mind he will always be that annoying, pureblood ferret.
Still, he lays down one white rose for the man who surprised them all.
Names and memories begin to flash before him and he found himself caught by the past crashing down on him in tidal waves.
Seamus Finnegan, who was thrown off the Astronomy Tower by Fenrir Greyback.
One white rose for the Irish prankster.
Ernie Macmillan, who made it through the battle, but died hours later in the hospital wing, victim of a Reducto curse to the stomach.
One white rose for the Head Boy.
Padma Patil, who, ten minutes into the battle, was accidentally killed by a reflected exploding hex.
One rose for the girl who wasn’t meant to die.
Justin Finch-Fletchly. Killed by Voldemort after he killed Rudolphous Lestrange with a Killing Curse – his first and last.
One white rose for a Muggleborn student who refused to hide.
Professor Severus Snape, one of the last to die by Voldemort’s hand, was victim of prolonged exposure to the Cruciatus curse. He body just gave out after twenty minutes.
One white rose for the man who did more for the light side than anyone will ever know.
Colin and Dennis Creevey. Brothers, burned to death by a dark, unstoppable fire curse. They requested to be buried together, as family.
Two white roses for two brothers who fought with all they had.
Professor Trelawney died after being put under Imperius by Avery and forced to walk off the edge of her tower.
One white rose for the Seer who never saw her own death.
More and more pass by and more and more white roses are left behind. The waves are still crashing down on him, each bringing more and more despair, more and more grief and loneliness.
Finally, he sees the two stones he has been dreading - avoiding. Slowly, he walks over to them and sits down on the grass in front, the last two roses in his hands.
On the left, second to the end, is her. Hermione Granger, Head Girl, Valedictorian, Creature Rights Activist, the smartest witch born this century. She died in a blaze of glory, victim of an unknown curse sent by Bellatrix Lestrange, who she managed to take down with her. He would never mourn for her, but instead, celebrate her, as she wanted – as she asked him to. He would spend his life preserving her memory and her accomplishments if he had to.
One white rose for the girl he loved. Loves.
On the right is the very last stone in the field of green and white. It is no different from the rest, just as he would have wanted it and beneath it lay Harry Potter; victim of prophecy, victim of fate, victim of manipulation and of lies. His final battle happened just as everyone said it would: he and Voldemort seeing each other across the battlefield, killing, cursing - hurting - anyone who got in their quests to get to each other. Harry, through a combination of luck and skill, killed the megalomaniac – no one is entirely sure how – but the strain on his magic was too great and he collapsed into a heap on the main steps of Hogwarts. He came out of his coma a week later, just long enough to hear who died before he eventually joined the list.
One white rose for the boy who was given nothing and yet still gave everything.
And so as he limps away from the graves of the victims of the Second Dark War, as it came to be known, he walks away empty handed – all his roses gone, and I have to ask: who will lay a rose at the feet of this boy, this man, who graduated from Hogwarts only be forced into a war he never believed in? Who will spare a rose for the man who lost the woman he loved and the friend who was more like a brother in the same day? Will anyone spare a flower for the one man, alone in his generation?
One white rose for Ron Weasley, the last survivor.
One white rose for each of the fallen.
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