(WARNING – POTTER SPOILERS)
Harry had not been to many funerals in his life, though now it seemed there were funerals everyday which required his attendance. He could not begrudge the requests; in many cases he had been friends with the deceased, and even where he had not been close to the one who died, it seemed everyone took comfort in his presence at him being at the funeral. So Harry made time, and Ginny accepted this as right and necessary for the most part. Until it was time for the funeral of one whose death Harry once thought he would be glad to hear about. Certainly Ginny did not like the idea of Harry going to his funeral.
“Harry, he hated you,” said Ginny for what seemed the hundredth time. “If it was your funeral, he would only have come to mock the mouners.”
“I have to go, Ginny” said Harry, simply. To tell the truth, Harry was not sure how he felt about this man. Yes, he had been brave, but that did not change how he had acted towards Harry all those years, and yes, Ginny may well have been right, that so long as it was not his direct fault, the man might have enjoyed Harry dying.
But maybe not. Something had changed in him, just as Harry had changed, and whatever that something was, it commanded respect, certainly enough to mean Harry had to go to his funeral.
The funeral was held in, of all things, the Library at Hogwarts. This seemed extremely strange to Harry, and he had no idea whose idea it was to have the service here, but here he was, the body laid out on a table in a formal fashion, as though the dead man was the subject of a lecture to be held.
It was a depressing atmosphere, Harry sensed. Partly because there were so few people to mourn this man; he had never been popular, and even the proof of his honor and bravery against Voldemort was not sufficient to bring many to regard him before the destruction of his body. As Harry entered the room for the service, he glanced around and saw the Malfoys, who ignored him, a woman dressed all in black who seemed devastated with grief, although with her veil and formal dress, Harry could not be sure who it was, and – strangely enough – Hagrid, who took up three chairs. Harry went to sit next to Hagrid.
Hagrid leaned over towards Harry and said, “Ah told yeh he was loyal, Harry.”
“Yes, Hagrid,” agreed Harry, “you were right.”
And the service began. From somewhere, strange sad music began, stringed instruments of an orchestra and a cornet, and somehow Harry knew it was “The Vanished Gardens of Cordoba” by Ray Lynch, a muggle musician and composer. The tune was fitting, solemn and somehow noble, and Harry somehow knew that Severus had chosen this music. Had he known how few people would come to his funeral? Probably, thought Harry to himself. Severus never cultivated friends, and he must have known that his funeral would be a sad and lonely thing. Rather like the man.
There were no words.
At first, this seemed odd to Harry, but then he realized there was really nothing to say. If you wanted to say good-bye, this was the time, and it was not something to script. The wrongs done by Severus Snape would not be unmade by a service, and what good there was to him was set out, unvarnished, without embellishment. There was a quiet dignity to him in that respect, no pretense, no cosmetic attempt to be something other than simply what he was.
The music rose to a climax, as if something significant were meant to happen, and at that moment Harry heard a movement at the doorway behind him, and he turned, and was surprised to see Nevillle Longbottom and Kingsley Shacklebolt enter the chamber, each of them strangely formal in their dress, their manners, and their movements. The two men paced forward, stopped before the body, and the Minister of Magic turned to Neville, who paused.
Neville looked at Snape’s face, his jaw working as if he was momentarily torn in his choice. Harry saw a flash of emotion, anger and distaste mixed with something else, but in a moment he was calm again, with a short nod, reached to his side and withdrew the Sword of Godric Gryffindor, which he extended hilt-first to the Minister.
Kingsley Shackleford extended the sword’s blade towards the face of Severus Snape, and for a moment Harry thought he meant to strike the body, but with a smooth motion, the Minister tapped each shoulder twice with flat of the sword, then he returned the sword to Neville, who took it and hung it again by his side. Shackleford reached within his robes and removed a medal and ribbon, and smoothly set the Order of Merlin, First Class around Snape’s neck. The Minister and Neville straightened, bowed slightly to Snape then turned and left the room without a word, though Neville gave Harry and Hagrid a nod and a slight smile as he passed.
The music grew quiet, and Harry sensed that it was time for the mourners to pass and pay their respects. The Malfoys came first, and Harry was surprised to see how distraught Narcissa was by the death of Snape. From his reaction, Lucius Malfoy was also shocked by her apparent affection for Severus, though Draco was not surprised at all. Then again, Draco seemed dully unaware of his surroundings, as if he was unsure about what was real. That he looked at Harry without cursing was strange enough in itself.
Hagrid came next, and he leaned over, thought for a few moments, then patted Severus on the shoulder and said something to him, so quietly that Harry had no idea what it was. Hagrid rose, turned and nodded to Harry with a demeanor more serious than Harry remembered seeing from him, and walked towards the exit.
Harry approached the body of his long-time enemy, unsure of what he felt. He was reminded of how he had felt as he approached Snape while he had been dying, there too he did it without any conscious thought. Perhaps it was imagination, but it seemed to Harry that in death, the body of Severus Snape still carried that loneliness and pain he had hidden so long, so well that Harry would never have know it but for the memories he experienced in the pensieve. Harry wondered if the pain and sorrow etched in the face of Severus Snape was reflected in wherever Snape had gone, or if he had finally been able to leave them and moved on. Harry was surprised to realize that he had no hate for Snape. Perhaps, later, he might even come to respect the man – Harry almost smiled to recall how insistent Albus Dumbledore had been that he call Snape by his title – but for now, at least he did not have any grudge against him.
Harry noticed something in Snape’s hand. He had died with his hands empty, so this had been put there by someone. It seemed to be part of a photograph, and though Harry could not see the image within, the tear reminded him of the other part he carried within his robes, and in a flash Harry realized that Snape clutched in his dead fingers a symbol of his honor, his bravery, and his lost yet noble hope.
Harry stood up to leave, but stopped. He owed something more than just to observe the man. Harry looked intently at the face of Snape for a moment, nodded to himself, and quietly said, “Thank you, professor.”
He then stepped to the door, allowing the grieving woman to spend time alone with Snape. The veil concealed her face, yet Harry thought he recognized the nose and the jawline, but now was not the time to disturb her, merely to satisfy curiosity.
Harry left the library and stepped into the warm sunlight of the bright afternoon.