Sandra Benedetto: Harry Potter and the Funeral of his Friends

This is the outcome of a writing exercise we did at one of our meetings last year. We each wrote the first and last page of a book with a made-up title assigned by the group. I had only ever read the first Harry Potter book, so this was a real challenge. My apologies to true fans for any blasphemous mischaracterizations and mistakes! You could do WAY better . . . give it a shot!

First Page:

Ginny couldn’t shake the feeling that something was amiss. After all, Harry hadn’t been home in days and 200£ was missing from the desk drawer. She had checked when she first suspected that something was wrong, digging past old deposit slips and receipts to where the banknotes should have been neatly tucked away.

It wasn’t the first time Harry had dipped into the emergency funds and disappeared. Last June he took off with 78£ and a satchel loaded with armadillo plates, vials of scorpion blood and griffin talons (she’d had to do a bit of detective work to figure that out). He’d left a hastily scrawled note about a friend in need on the table in the foyer and that’s all Ginny had to go on until he showed up three days later looking like hell. If she didn’t know any better she’d have thought a Dementor had got to him. Then in September she’d woken up to find him creeping out of the bedroom in the middle of the night, leaving her disoriented and alone with her questions.

On both of those occasions Ginny had peppered him with questions upon his return. He apologized and pleaded for understanding but said that he couldn’t tell her where he’d been and with whom. Couldn’t or wouldn’t, she wondered. She searched his face trying to determine if the wild look in his eyes was one of triumph or agitation. At night she would lie awake speculating about the recent goings-on. She’d eventually settled on the hypothesis that Harry was going through some sort of early mid-life crisis.

After defeating Voldemort, Harry had been overjoyed to settle down with Ginny. He loved becoming a father to their three children and seemed fulfilled as acting Head of the Auror Department at Hogwarts. He’d finally found the safe haven and stability that had been missing for most of his life. For a few years they’d been happy, almost blissfully so. Then, about a year ago, Harry started behaving peculiarly. He seemed distracted at home and ambivalent about his job, and — although it might seem like nothing to some people — he alarmed Ginny by coming home every Friday evening with a new pair of shoes. These unusual behaviors, coupled with his disappearances, led Ginny to conclude that he was looking for excitement wherever he could find it.

 

Last Page:

squeezed Harry’s hand. He breathed in deeply as if by doing so he could suction death out of the room and reanimate his beloved friends. There they lay in their crypts, destined to be still and silent for eternity. Ron, Hermione, George and Luna. It was almost impossible to believe. He half expected Ron and George to jump up and explain that it had all been an elaborate prank. Hermione would have disapproved at first but they would have convinced her to go along with it. If he opened her crypt right now he’d see that knowing smile that graced so many of his memories and she would explain everything. They would laugh about it for years to come. It had to be so. He simply couldn’t accept a world without her, without all of them.

The smell of burning incense drew Harry’s attention back to the Grotto of Grief. He watched the candlelight dance on the cavernous walls in mockery of this dreadful reunion. He never dreamed that the last time they’d all be at Hogwarts together would be here, in this lugubrious chamber. Of course, he knew that his friends had been heading down a dark and dangerous path. He’d spent the last year trying desperately to save them. But he’d held out hope that their demons wouldn’t get the best of them. In the end, that hope was a delusion. Lovable Luna, ravaged by her addictions. Almost unrecognizable at the end, but he would remember her as the quirky, lighthearted girl she once was. George and Ron, his brothers in spirit, victims of their own success. And Hermione — dear, brilliant, loyal Hermione — a casualty of Ron’s follies. The flickering candlelight muddled into a soft glow as his eyes welled up with tears.

As if reading his thoughts, Ginny turned to Harry and said, “You did everything you could, my love.” Her eyes sought to both reassure him and share in his sorrow. Harry nodded slightly and said, “I know.” But he also knew that he was partly to blame. He’d been torturing himself with “if onlys” for the past three nights. He couldn’t tell Ginny that, though. She still idealized him and their life together. She wouldn’t understand if she knew the whole story. He ached to tell her and felt utterly alone with his secret. But he had to be the man she believed him to be, for her and the children’s sakes. He would mourn his friends, and then he would pick himself up and move on, because that’s all there was left to do. Just then Ginny leaned in and whispered, “I know everything, and it’s going to be ok.”

 

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7 Comments

  1. I would be highly interested in reading the rest. Fans of the series have always said that the stories grew older with their audience, and you seem to have captured the essence of this truth; well done, indeed.

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