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Chapter 17

When the great hall was finally filled the headmistress tapped her glass. "This afternoon," she announced, "we will have a memorial service for those that we have lost, and then we will rest. Tomorrow afternoon we will have an early graduation ceremony because many of our beloved students will have to take on the responsibilities of life far earlier than they should have to. But they are willing to answer the need and do these things that must be done. So we must send them forth with joyousness, and pride, with a great deal of pride! Our guests who came to our aid will remain for the ceremony but then they must depart. I wish to express my gracious thanks on behalf of all that they came in our hour of need!"
Harry rose and started to applaud, and everybody else did likewise until the headmistress again tapped her glass. "I can remember," the headmistress continued, "when all of you first came here, and I stood above you on the steps to take you in for sorting. I saw some things I didn't like to see, and I heard some things I didn't like to hear. But any faults you entered here with are long forgotten. To each and every one of you, success in lie! Oh, one other thing! Girls, you'll only be here a couple of more nights. Spend those nights in your own beds?"
There was a roar of laughter that quickly died down. Everyone finished their breakfast and went to settling their affairs, giving things to the other students that they wouldn't need any more. But Harry was at the dock to greet Neville's parents, and, Diane's. Both mothers took him in their arms and held him strongly. No words needed to be spoken. They understood why their children had done what they had done, and they would not question it.
There was singing and readings in the service, then Harry stood. "I've been asked to speak," he began, "but what can I say? I think it has already been said best when the man said "There is no greater act of friendship than when a man gives his life for another man." I have been blessed with really great friends who were willing to give up everything they desired that our dreams might continue. I pledge myself every hour of every day to put my full efforts into seeing to it that what they loved endures forever. That is the only way I can ever fully honor that which was done for me, to see to it that our way never dies, and that it is always kept with honor.
Our dear friends who taught us so well are Spiritualists. They have a song they sing at their meetings called "Let The Lower Lights Be Burning." I ask our wonderful singers to now sing that as we pick up these vessels that once held our friends and put them in the place where they will rest forever."
Harry went down as the singing began and took ahold of the strap that had been attached to Neville's coffin and adjusted to his height. Ron came to the other side, his three brothers who were the closest to the fallen took three other straps, and Viktor took the last. Hermione, Ginny and the other girls took the straps of Diane's coffin and after the boys had carried theirs out they lifted their burdon and followed.
At the tomb they lowered in the coffins, unhooked their straps and pulled them out. Harry and Hermione took out their wants and levitated the cover stones into place. Harry saw the spirits of their friends floating behind their parents and touching their shoulders. Harry cried out "It is done! Let us depart and have a celebration for these lives. Let us speak their praises and remember their joys!"
Everybody agreed. There was feasting, singing and dancing long into the night. In the morning they got ready for graduation. Harry was just about done dressing when he suddenly stared out the window towards Hagrid's house. He quickly ran, got a writing board and some parchment, wrote something on it and signed it. "Ron!" he snapped "Sign this! Everybody sign this!"
Ron quickly read what Harry had written. "Yes!" he cried, quickly signed the petition. The other boys hurried up, read the petition and without hesitation signed it. Harry hurried into the girl's dorm, and without hesitation they all signed it, too. Then Harry went to Slytherin, Huffelpuff, Gryffindor, and everybody else signed. Then he went to the headmistress' office.
"Good morning Harry!" she remarked. "What brings you here?" "Headmistress," Harry announced, "on behalf of the students I present a petition in the hopes that you will approve it."
He held out the petition. The headmistress read it and smiled. She wrote on the position "Approved Joyously!" and signed it. "I'll leave it to you, Harry," she remarked, "to make the preparations. I've got enough to do!"
Harry nodded and hurried off. Finally he and his companions were gathered outside the great hall in their best robes, each wearing the awards they had earned. The stirring music of the grand march began. The doors opened, and side by side they marched down the aisle!

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