It was sunny, the sun sparkling and hot with a slight breeze; to some people it may have seemed that this was unfortunate or inappropriate for a funeral, but Neville thought it was perfect. Certainly it was the way he would have wanted it to be, perfect Quidditch conditions, and a day that spoke of happiness.
Yet it was also a day of mourning, not only for those lucky enough to be counted among his friends or family, but for the whole wizarding world, which was evident in the vast number of people that had come. Neville didn’t remember having ever seen so many people at a funeral, not even in Dumbledore’s, if his memory didn’t betray him - a long time had passed.
‘Greatpa, Greatpa!’ Neville smiled, maybe a funeral wasn’t the best place for children, but no one had wanted to miss this one, so the place was full of kids.
He opened his arms, hugged Ed and placed him in his lap.
‘Look, Greatpa!’ Ed seemed excited. ’My Chocolate Frog had a card of you!’ He shoved the card under Neville’s nose, so near that he couldn’t read it.
‘Let’s see,’ Neville said, moving Ed's arm away so that he could see the card. ’Yes, it’s true, it’s me.'
Although still a bit uncomfortable, he wasn’t as embarrassed as that first time, just a couple of months after turning eighteen, when he had looked at the card that came with the Chocolate Frog he was eating just to find himself looking back from it. He had choked on the Frog and blushed madly. The card had a picture of him, that he couldn’t remember ever taking, holding Gryffindor’s sword and spoke about his role in the Battle of Hogwarts. After staring dumbly at the card for several minutes, he had decided to talk to Harry, Ron and Hermione on Monday when he went to Hogwarts for his external classes. Surely if he had a card, they would also have one.
It turned out that Neville was the first news they had heard about it, and although they also stared in shock at Neville’s card for a minute, Ron warmed to the idea soon enough, opening all the Frogs he had and asking everyone for theirs until he found all of their cards. After examining them for a bit, he had burst out laughing. Harry, Hermione, Ginny and Neville had looked at Ron in confusion, till he was able to tell them amid laughter, ‘I…I was… hehehehe… I was just imagining Malfoy’s face if he were to eat a Chocolate Frog and found one of our cards on it.' After which, all of them had been laughing for several minutes, the first time he could remember all of them laughing openly after the war.
The cards had been changed several times over the years, to update their pictures and to incorporate their new achievements, like Neville's post at Hogwarts and his discoveries about the Mimbulus Mimbletonia, Hermione’s work improving the status of the house-elves, Ron’s and Harry’s achievements as Aurors and even the latter's short-lived career of professional Quidditch. The card Neville was looking at now didn’t have that much in common with that first one.
‘And now,’ Ed hadn’t stopped his excited talk, ‘I have all of your friends’ cards, Greatpa! Yesterday I found Ginny Potter’s!’
Both Ginny and Luna had earned their own cards some years after the battle, Luna for her discoveries of new magical animals and Ginny for her amazing career in Quidditch. He could clearly remember how angry Ginny had been, saying that Quidditch players never got cards and that they had made one of her just because she was Harry’s wife, but she had calmed when Harry had pointed out that the card didn’t say anything about him, while it spoke about her role as one of the leaders of the D.A. and the importance of this organization during the war.
‘Greatpa…’ Neville looked at Ed, who didn’t seem excited anymore. He was looking down with a sad expression on his face. ‘Emm said…she told me…she told me we are all here because Harry Potter has died…but that’s not true! Is it?’ He looked at Neville with a scared expression, his eyes looking pleadingly at Neville hoping to hear that he was right. ‘It can’t be true! No one can kill Harry Potter! He’s immortal!’
Neville sighed. ‘Ed… No one killed Harry, but he wasn’t immortal…he was old, as I am, and he died because everyone dies when they get old.’
‘So you're going to die too?!’ Now he looked even more scared.
‘Of course, Ed, we all die.’
‘When?! Are you also going to die today?!’ Ed seemed to be holding back tears.
Neville hugged him. ‘No one knows when they are going to die… but I don’t think I’m going to die today.’
Now Neville chuckled a bit. ‘Like I told you, no one knows when they are going to die, not even me. But I’m as old as Harry was, so it will probably be soon.’
‘But I don’t want you to die, Greatpa!’
‘I know, Eddie, I know,’ he said, patting his back. ‘But don’t worry now about that. Has Emm seen your card? Why don’t you go to show her?’ Neville said, placing Ed back on his feet. He wanted to go and see Ginny and Hermione, who were at the front.
He walked towards them through the crowd, hearing snippets of their conversations, all centred around Harry and his family
‘Yeah, I worked for a while with his oldest, James. When they first told me, I was afraid he was going to be too full of himself, being his father who he was, you know, but then he turned out to be very nice, a bit of a show-off sometimes, but he really had a sense of humour…’
Neville lost that voice between the rest, but soon enough he caught a woman’s, an old pupil if he wasn’t mistaken.
‘Ooooh! I remember the first time I saw him, he came to give a talk about Defence at Hogwarts, but I was so awed that I didn’t hear half of what he was saying…’ she said, giggling.
Neville smiled. He remembered her - an old student, one of his last, she had been giggling all the way through Harry’s lecture, and Harry had spent the whole lecture checking himself, thinking that maybe he had something on his nose or robes… Neville chuckled a bit - even after all those years, and everything that had happened, Harry was always a bit insecure, that didn’t change.
Neville took a bit of a detour to avoid a group where a bald and wrinkled man was saying, ‘I had Potions with his son. Albus, I think was his name-’
‘Yes, it was,’ replied the short woman who was hanging on his arm, his wife maybe. ‘Albus Severus, I always wondered what the poor kid had done to them to deserve such a name.’
‘Well, dear,’ replied the man, ‘at least it wasn’t as bad as Scorpius Malfoy, was it?’
Neville agreed with the man, Scorpius was worse. For some reason most of the kids in that year had rather… exotic names. Hell, if he remembered correctly, those two, Brutus and Mesalina, were not the best ones to talk. Maybe the only one with a fairly normal name that year had been Rose, Ron and Hermione’s oldest.
Finally, Neville reached Ginny and Hermione. Hermione was surrounded by her family, he hugged her and talked with her for a bit, but she sounded hollow and obviously wasn’t in the mood for small talk. He went to search for Ginny, but someone called him and put a hand on his shoulder. He turned and saw Hugo, Ron and Hermione’s youngest, looking at him with a worried frown.
‘Neville, I was wondering… if you don’t mind…could you come to visit and talk to my mother sometime, she was always very fond of you. I’m worried about her… first Dad, now Uncle Harry…she feels very lonely and I fear for her…’
Neville looked at Hermione; she seemed lost, and he could understand it. Ron had died two months ago, now Harry… he didn’t tell Hugo, but he had the impression that she would follow soon; those three had never been apart for long. ‘Of course, Hugo, don’t worry, I’ll visit her,’ he said instead.
‘Thank you, Neville,’ said Hugo, going back to Hermione.
Neville returned to his search for Ginny, waving to Teddy Lupin, who, in honour of Harry, was wearing his hair in red and gold stripes, and his wife, Victoire; he was always surprised by the appearance of those two, with his Metamorphmagus abilities Teddy was able to look always young and it didn’t matter how old Victoire was, the Veela blood in her made sure that she was still stunning.
Ginny was seated in front of the grave, her closest family around her and her hand clutching her daughter’s. Neville expressed his condolences to James, Albus and Lily and then hugged Ginny, who had tear tracks on her face.
‘How are you?’ he whispered.
To his surprise, Ginny smiled a little bit and said, ‘I’m angry.'
‘Angry?’ Neville asked, confused.
‘Yes.’ She sighed. ‘He promised me that he would never leave me behind again.' Her voice choked a bit at the end.
‘I’m sure he didn’t want to, Ginny,’ Neville said, concerned by Ginny’s words. He hoped that her mind was not suffering from age.
‘Yes, I know… it’s just this feeling, you know? It’s like he chose my brother over me again.’
‘I don’t think he ever chose Ron over you,’ said Neville, feeling relieved that her mind seemed to be perfectly fine. ‘I seem to recall him kissing you for the first time in front of everyone, Ron included, without knowing what his reaction would be. To me that was a clear: ‘I’m going to choose Ginny, I hope Ron is ok with that, but if he isn’t, sod him.’’
Ginny chuckled softly, at the same time that a couple of tears slid down her cheeks.
‘Yeah, and after seeing how furious Ron had been when he found Dean Thomas and me kissing.’ She sighed again. ‘I know you’re right, it’s just an irrational feeling, but…’ she shrugged her shoulders, ‘it’s there, and I can’t help but feel a little angry with him… and also with myself for feeling it.’
‘Don’t worry, Mum.’ It was Lily. ‘It’s normal to feel a little angry at first.’
Ginny squeezed her hand and looked at her. ‘At least he died how he wanted, happy, in peace and surrounded by his own family.’ She smiled at Lily and turned her head to look at her sons, sobbing when she saw them.
‘Mum! Are you all right?’ James seemed concerned by the sudden outburst from his mother.
‘Oh, I’m sorry… it’s just… Al…’
Albus hugged her mother. ‘What?’
‘It’s … you look so much like your father… and you even have his same eyes… I can’t help it.’ She gave a little hiccup and Albus hugged her. ‘It’s a bit like looking at your Uncle George after Uncle Fred died, it hurts so much…’
‘Mum…’ Albus took her mother by the shoulders and looked her in the eyes. ‘This is different. Uncle Fred was too young to die. Dad was ancient; he had a complete, full, and happy life, and, like you said, he died the way he wanted, peacefully.’
Feeling that he was intruding in a private moment, Neville excused himself and went back with his own family. But he couldn’t help thinking that Albus was right, Harry had died as he always hoped he would, so although it was a funeral, Neville felt it was a happy ending.