"We are gathered here today to memorialize one of the saddest events in my lifetime, perhaps in the history of wizard-kind, the Death of the Greatest Wizard Who Ever Lived." SNNEEERRFFFFF. Albus Dumbledore blew his nose unashamedly into a bright blue handkerchief the size of a hand towel.
Wiping his nose he continued morosely. "He was cut off in the prime of his life. Far too soon for one with so much potential, so much to live for, so much to offer his friends and the world at large." SNNEEERRFFFFF.
"But his life was not given in vain. His was the most noble of sacrifices. 'Greater love hath no man than to give up his life for another.' Those words to live by were his life's motto and are rightly displayed on this headstone we place at his grave today.
"Time will never permit me to tell you of all the great services this wizard of legend has performed for the students and faculty of Hogwarts. Many of those acts will never be recorded in the many histories of his life that are already being written. I myself hope to someday write his biography, sharing my unique perspective and recollections from knowing him for so long. I am supposed to know him better and longer than any other, but now I will never know him as well as I have always wanted.
"He was always looking out for our needs and helping behind the scenes, so busy, so caring, so much to be admired for his conscientiousness.
"Sniff, Sniff-sniff, SNNEERRFF. But I cannot go on!" And the great Albus Dumbledore broke down in sheer misery, consumed by his sorrow.
A young man in the front row stood hesitantly. The wind across the fields of Hogwarts blew his hair into even more of a mess than usual. He was near tears himself. The boy's bravery was legendary, but not as well known as the courage and resolve of the one they mourned this cold and blustery day.
"I did not really know this greatest of all wizards. He struck fear in my heart in some ways. But he looked out for us so well, and in such a fatherly way, that I could not be completely afraid of his all-consuming presence. His care and concern for us was so manifestly evident in his everyday ministrations for the good of Hogwarts, its staff, and its students.
"On the field of battle there was none to compare to him. He struck fear into the heart of Death Eater and dementor alike. None wanted to face him. None succeeded in facing him and living to tell of the horrors of his valor unless they immediately surrendered. Just watching him in a fight was an education and an inspiration to me. I learned so much." Choking sob. "How much more could I have learned had I followed the advice he so willingly gave in the day to day opportunities I so often missed?"
A tear dropped from one of the student's famous emerald eyes. "I am a better wizard... no... a better man because of the days I spent just in close proximity to the Greatest Wizard Who Ever Lived."
Tears flowed even more freely. A great sob. His dark wild hair was not quite as wild this day. It was as though even his normally unruly mop drooped a bit in sorrow. Uncontrollable shaking began in his knees, and he slowly lowered himself to the ground. His cry was one of abject despair. "Why couldn't it have been me?"
Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger helped their best friend back to his chair. He fell to his knees before it and shook off their hands when they tried to help him to his seat.
The always-dapper politician rose next. He was not quite as well turned out this day. It was as if even his wardrobe knew this was a day of national... no... international mourning. His necktie was not quite tied correctly and it definitely was not centered. The flower in the buttonhole of his vested and pinstriped robes had wilted, even though it had been freshly cut that very morning.
Fudge began, "I never appreciated this great wizard. Headmaster Dumbledore tried to tell me often of his power, his strength, the orderliness he commanded in all he accomplished, and in those he inspired. His raw power was there for me to see and I ignored it. Even though I felt it every time I came near him, making itself known when I came to this school, but I could never let myself see. I was blind to the truth."
The Minister of Magic heaved a heavy sigh. Slowly he continued. "He could have done so much for our world and surely for the Muggle world if we could have spared him to help them. It is the greatest missed opportunity of my entire career in public service that I did not bring him into our greater government service and learn at the feet of this master of control and organization." Fudge lowered his head in silence.
He stood there noiselessly for some time. All present at least now realized the magnitude of benefit they might have enjoyed had this greatest of wizards been in the position the Minister of Magic had just described. Fudge stood stricken by the impact of his even more obvious failure as the leader of magical beings in the British Isles.
"I now realize that for the good of our collective souls I must atone for my mistakes. This day I announce my immediate resignation from my post. I turn over all control of the civil magical government to Arthur Weasley, the next most senior governmental servant present. Please forgive me and do not brand all my service to you as a failure even though I deserve such a label because of this monumental blunder."
He was staring into the distance blankly. He stumbled to his seat and sat down, a ruined and shaken man, internally scared for life. Not prepared for such a grave responsibility, Arthur Weasley knew he must stand and offer some shred of hope to those gathered. He saw that Rita Skeeter was overcome with tears but her Quick Quotes Quill was still writing, though in a haphazard manner. He must save the moral well being of those present.
Weasley knew he had to give some possible hope to his world, but he knew that his words would only provide hope after the weeks of spontaneous national mourning were somehow ended. Haltingly, "I...erm... that is to say..." he stopped trying to speak. Everyone understood the hopelessness of the task he was now beginning.
Clearing his throat, he continued, "We must go on. We do not know how, but I know the Greatest Wizard to Ever Live, who lies here now before us in this tomb, would want us to go on. I remember him in my younger days at school. Even his humble secondary position at that time he was a towering presence and powerful force for good. He was so hard on me but I am a better man for it. If I am considered somehow able to manage this post even temporarily, it is because of this man, this legend of a man.
"Why didn't I learn from his vast storehouse of knowledge and wisdom and best practices in his chosen field? How much better managed and organized would have been my life, my family, and my work? He was a man with a task, of humble origins, driven to bring out the best in whatever he did. There was always such a shine about his work, a clean-ness about his solutions to whatever life brought his way."
The acting Minister of Magic had the attention of everyone. Even former Minister Fudge sat riveted to his seat, hoping against hope for the slightest relief from his misery. Acting Minister Weasley spoke up now with tears in his eyes. "It is a pathetic offering of gratitude but I must make it for the sake of our very beings.
"This day shall be forever enshrined in our hearts as a holiday to commemorate the life of this, the Greatest Wizard Who Ever Lived. We will somehow struggle forward without him though I know not how. But he would have wanted us to go forward, nonetheless.
"We must go on. If for no other reason, his sacrifices made going on possible. He gave himself for us. His life of service was capped by this final act of duty to these hallowed halls, walls, doors and even floors that he loved so much."
There was a horrifying disturbance that drew everyone's attention. Lord Voldemort had somehow made his way into the crowd.
Aurors and many others drew their wands at this interruption of such a hallowed occasion. But the rail thin wraith of a man had tears in his red slit eyes also. He shouted so all could hear, "I come in peace! My wand is not drawn! I too come to mourn the Death of the Greatest Wizard Who Ever Lived!"
Many were in shock at what they saw and heard, but the heartfelt sincerity of his statements was patently obvious. Even He Who Must Not Be Named must mourn the Great Wizard's passing. It was believed by many, and soon proven true by his own words, that young Tom Riddle had been at Hogwarts at the same time as the early days of our fallen hero.
Voldemort was a shadow of his former horrid self. He was reduced to overwhelming grief as he considered his own particular missed chances for a better life. "I have perhaps more to mourn than most. I was there at the beginning of his illustrious career. I saw the genius. As I skulked around the school at night on my nefarious errands, I saw the sheer brilliance of the man. He was always there trying to create a way for me to see the errors of my ways. He always knew of my sins. He offered me the means for change. But I would not listen!
"I was lost to my evil desires to live forever and to control the world. And there he was all the time, holding out to me a better path, a golden path of service to all mankind. He was the very epitome of this path of glory and I could not see. In my vanity, I COULD NOT SEE!!" The Dark Lord's red eyes sizzled from hot coals to wet dark ashes as the tears flowed.
"How many lives would have been saved had I listened to the Greatest Wizard Who Ever Lived? He was right there in his early career, chasing me throughout the night. Why did I have to be so good at escaping his attempts to stop me...?"
The scream that interrupted the abjectly repentant megalomaniac pierced the day like a dagger that was already encased in the hope of so many hearts. Professor Minerva McGonagall ran to the front of those gathered at this most solemn of occasions.
Shrilly she cried out with spittle showing at the edge of her mouth. "I have failed you the most! When I started here at Hogwarts I was immediately drawn to this most powerful of wizards. But his raw power, his domination of every situation, his magnificent presence frightened me. I am ashamed to call my house Gryffindor, for out of my fear I have failed all of you. I could have...I wanted to... I should have offered myself to him!!
"I could have borne his progeny. His marvelous genes are lost to us forever. I have failed the world at large!"
She screamed, "I COULD HAVE BEEN THE MOTHER OF THE CHILDREN OF....ARGUS FILCH!!"
Fade to Reality
"Argus Filch! - ARGUS FILCH! - ARGUS FILCH!
Filch was shaken from his reverie, the daydream he always had when those around him were accomplishing so much in the wizarding world. They excelled and he was having a tough time cleaning up the mess from their shoes as they went about achieving those accomplishments.
Professor McGonagall shook Filch's shoulder and brought him back from the netherworld of his imagination. "Argus Filch, you have made a mess of this carpet, mopping too close. Now it is wet all along this corridor. Well, never mind that now. I know you have sacrificed sleep and meals while cleaning all night and all day because of the broken windows and the debris from the storms of the last three days. But please be more careful.
"The Quidditch match is over. Potter caught the Snitch and Gryffindor will once again hold the Quidditch Cup. The students have tracked in mud from the rains over night. Professor Dumbledore asked that I please bring you news of this and ask for your immediate attention to the mess before the feast tonight."
She walked off briskly. Mr. Filch grabbed his broom and turned to follow her. He paused for a moment and stared at the broom, holding it as the students held their brooms before mounting them to fly upwards from the Quidditch pitch..........
.......... The roar was electrifying. The crowds from all four houses, even those defeated, were on their feet. The announcer, throat raw from his cheering, managed to say, "In this historic game he has scored more goals, blocked more Quaffles, and caught the Golden Snitch - setting records that will never be broken! Listen to the crowds cheer."
"Filch! Filch! FILCH!! FILCH!!!!!
A/N - James Thurber was one of the most famous American humorists that ever lived. His droll stories and delicious cartoons added such life to the New Yorker magazine during the Great Depression and afterwards.
Many feel Thurber's most famous short story was The Secret Life of Walter Mitty. It was my inspiration for this piece. You can find this tale on the web. I believe it is now public domain. My story is a poor tribute to this literary genius.
A/N Much thanks to my patient beta, Armand. Armand was called back into the Active Naval Reserve at the very end of 2004. If you pray, or send kind thought waves, or just wish well, please send them for him and his loved ones at this time for his safe return. Thanks also go to my Quill beta reader, Ozma.
Disclaimer---What belongs to J K Rowling is J K Rowling's. What belongs to anyone else is theirs. Everything left is mine, I guess, but remember the old adage: "There is nothing new under the sun."