The Ghosts of Godric’s Hollow

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Dec 24, 2017

Posted by: Dawn Johnson | Comments

Books, Fandom, Fans, Films, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Holidays, J.K. Rowling, Movies, News

The days were cold. Chilled further by his absence. Absence they refused to speak of. They moved from place to place, casting the same protective charms, leafing sightlessly through the same books, unable to sleep night after night. They descended into despair. Helpless. Hopeless.

Ron’s words hung heavy, a burden that couldn’t be lifted. “We thought you knew what you were doing….We thought Dumbledore had told you what to do….We thought you had a real plan!” 

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Self-doubt turned to silence, broken only by brief conversations with Phineas Nigellus. The veiled interrogations yeilded little but painful realizations. Snape tightened his grip upon Hogwarts. Ginny, Neville, and Luna fought to keep Dumbledore’s Army alive and active–at great cost. The knowledge of everything they couldn’t do was maddening.

Snow began to fall, crystallizing the countryside. What might otherwise have been beautiful, now so barren, cut to the marrow. Christmas lights appeared over the course of their travels, advertising the passing of time, but the glow failed to bring them warmth. Harry grew desperate and resolved to make a stab in the dark, literally and figuratively.

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But before he could utter the words, asking her to do what he knew she dreaded, Hermione drew his attention back to the book, the one Dumbledore had bequethed without explanation. The Tales of Beedle the Bard. It bore a picture, hand-drawn, which had gone unnoticed in his previous cursory examinations of the pages.

For the first time, he looked closely. It was the symbol worn by Luna’s father, the sign Viktor Krum had identified as “Grindelwald’s mark.” But why would a symbol of Dark Magic be inscribed in a child’s book–Dumbledore’s book?

Harry’s mind cast about for elusive answers, struggling to connect the threads. But all he could manage was to repeat the words that had echoed in his head all day, “I’ve been thinking. I–I want to go to Godric’s Hollow.”

Hermione did what he least expected. She agreed. She agreed because she, too, was grasping at straws, rambling. Godric’s Hollow, Godric Gryffindor, Gryffindor’s sword, Dumbledore replaced it. “Don’t you think Dumbledore would have expected you to make the connection?”

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He nodded wordlessly, his mind no longer on the horcrux on the bunk beside him or the sword they needed to destroy it or the lack of any direction whatsoever by the man who entrusted him with the mission. What he really wanted was to see the place where he had once lived in happy contentedness with two doting parents, to pretend, even for a moment, that he knew what that felt like. Because right now, he felt nothing.

“He was about to go home, about to return to the place where he had had a family. It was in Godric’s Hollow that, but for Voldemort, he would have grown up and spent every school holiday. He could have invited friends to his house….He might even have had brothers and sisters….It would have been his mother who had made his seventeeth birthday cake. The life he had lost had hardly ever seemed so real to him as at this moment, when he knew he was about to see the place where it had been taken from him.”

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After painstaking preparations, they finally apparated into the village, protected by darkness, Polyjuice Potion, and Harry’s Invisibility Cloak. Christmas decorations glittered from cottage windows, and festive songs echoed from the church in the square. It was idyllic and surreal. It was Christmas Eve–and the loneliest one he had spent since discovering he was a wizard.

They walked toward the graveyard behind the church. Hermione took his hand, and Harry was grateful. They walked past row after row of snow-covered tombstones, carving a swath through the cemetery. The stones looked so unassuming, these vestiges of life lost, yet it wasn’t long before the ghosts assailed him.

Kendra Dumbledore and Her Daughter Ariana Dumbledore.

Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.

Harry did not understand the words. But more than that, he did not understand Dumbledore’s failure to mention their shared connection and commiserate with him in the bitterness of like tragedy. His anticpation was now tinged with resentment, which he resisted only by pressing onward.

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They came to the grave of Ignotus–almost indecipherable but for Grindelwald’s mark. Hermione would have lingered, putting her intellect to work on the problem, but Harry was pulled forward as if by a force outside of himself. Searching, searching. And then, she found them. He could tell by the tone of her voice, and his chest contricted like a vice slowly tightening upon him with every turn of the handle.

James and Lily Potter.

The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death.

Confusion and fear welled up inside him, misunderstanding, and Hermione hastened to calm him. “It means…you know…living beyond death. Living after death.”

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“But they were not living, thought Harry: They were gone. The empty words could not disguise the fact that his parents’ moldering remains lay beneath snow and stone, indifferent, unknowing. And tears came before he could stop them, boiling hot then instantly freezing on his face, and what was the point in wiping them off or pretending? He let them fall, his lips pressed hard together, looking down at the thick snow hiding from his eyes the place where the last of Lily and James lay…close to wishing, at this moment, that he was sleeping under the snow with them.”

He could think of nothing but the losses, of all the ghosts that haunted him. Ron. Dumbledore. Ariana. James. Lily. And so many others. He could not in that moment move beyond the pain to find comfort in the hope offered in the inscription Hermione had so gently read. But Hermione must have known that some day he would, for she squeezed his hand again and conjured a beautiful wreath of Christmas roses to grace the gravesite.

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The wreath was a symbol of Harry’s love for his parents and of the hope he would one day embrace, recalling the Christmas Eve when he was reminded that there is victory greater than death’s defeat and a hope beyond it. That understanding would be the gift of all Christmas gifts. The ghosts of Godric’s Hollow brought to Harry the knowledge of what would really matter–in the end.





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