My top three, as rec'd by Mask since I couldn't decide.
Title: Endless GameYoung and old members were gone, and the Order was decimated. Molly was one of the few left who knew the older members; most of the Order members around now were quick admissions to fill the ranks.
She never thought she would do this, but Mundungus deserved this final respect. He had fought and died honorably just like Arthur, Fred, and Bill. There was no one else but her to give him his final farewell. She took a deep breath.
“We all know that Mundungus Fletcher wasn’t an honorable man. In fact, he tried to attack my late husband when he was conducting a raid for Muggle artifacts. So you may ask, why am I speaking today?”
Molly swallowed, knowing she had to force these words out, knowing that they were true. “I am speaking today because despite his questionable morality, Mundungus fought for us and our children, and died for them, too.”
Several people sniffled. “I will be the first to admit I did not like Mundungus. He sold stolen goods to my sons, and he smoked these terrible cigars.” Molly heard a laugh, and even smiled herself. “However, he had a good side. He was always loyal to Dumbledore – he never wavered. He rescued my last remaining son, Ron, from some purple robes that were strangling him at 12 Grimmauld Place two years ago.”
Ron blushed in the front row. “Most people will look at Mundungus and see a thief. They will see a man imprisoned. They will not see what he stole – the final Horcrux that Harry Potter destroyed. They will not see why he was imprisoned – an Imperius curse made him act like an Inferi.”
Molly looked at the audience. “I once saw him this way, too. I never saw his loyalty or his wit – I saw a scruffy, belligerent no-good. I will never claim that Mundungus wasn’t scruffy, or belligerent, or even a no-good. He did some very criminal things in his life.”
Molly nodded firmly. “But we cannot lose sight of what he did do. He never wanted to die; in fact he tried to get out of it. When the dementors cornered him on the battlefield, he ran. But that’s not important. The fact that he came back, that he conquered his fear, that he died because of it – that makes him a hero.”
Molly blinked away unexpected tears. “I couldn’t see why Dumbledore trusted Mundungus Fletcher. Now, I think Mundungus, out of all of us, was the one to trust. Though he was not the best man, he was, in the end, strong enough to get the job done.”
Molly swallowed back the quivers in her throat. She watched his body slip into the ground next to the graves of the Order members – of six of her children and countless others. He had been an unaccountable fool, but he done what she could not. He had protected those he loved.
Title: Golden EyesCrisp, blue skies stretched over the field. The sun shone brightly, light glinting on the blades of grass. The reflection of this light on the dew created a blinding mirage. Oliver Wood attempted to blame the glare for the tears building in his eyes.
Around the stadium, the seats were emptied and signs supporting each player were showing the trauma of battle. The Keeper’s hoops lay shattered on the field – it would take years to replace them. Broomsticks were broken around the field, and jerseys lay bloodied and ragged in the grass.
The Dark Mark floated up near the stadium lights, and the scoreboard had been twisted by a sadistic mind. Dark Lord: 1, Dumbledore: 0. A dead man stood for their side in a symbolic gesture. Oliver could feel a hysterical laugh building up – two years later, and the magical world still hadn’t stopped grieving for Albus Dumbledore.
Everything came down to the playoffs – the final game to decide who would win the World Cup, and who would win the War. Quidditch had been canceled.
The balls sat idle in their box, and Oliver picked up the Quaffle, running his hands over the familiar contours of the red ball. The people were gone, and so was every team. Tents stood empty and ravaged where they were.
There would be no World Cup winners this year – no trophy to hold, or cheering audiences. He had been so close to achieving his dream, of standing along the English Quidditch team as a world champion. He looked at the intact banner. Welcome to the Quidditch World Cup 1998.
Maybe in another four years. He would be older, and he would get less playing time, but maybe…in four years, maybe England would have another chance.
They said that the Quidditch games at Hogwarts had not been canceled – that the Death Eaters hadn’t been able to ever get inside the castle again, thanks to the added protections.
“Charlie!” called Mafalda, his supervisor. “Come watch! Paapet’s egg is cracking!”
Charlie dashed over to the bonfire and grabbed the leash of the anxious mother. The keepers had not allowed the mother to nest the egg because she was a first-time mother. Gently, Charlie urged her back. Paapet, a Common Welsh Green dragon, was one of his favorites on the reservation.
Suddenly, the bonfire turned green. Paapet reared back in confusion and rage. She was very protective of her eggs; anything she didn’t understand was subject to immediate hostility. Charlie struggled to contain the dragon.
He forced her head down and stared into her golden eyes. “Paapet, it’s alright. Your egg will be safe.”
The dragon bared her fangs in response to being forcibly held, but reluctantly stilled. “Good girl,” he murmured, stroking what he could reach of her gargantuan side.
Ludo Bagman, the head of the Department of Games and Sports at the Ministry back home, appeared in the fire, beaming. “Hello, Charlie. We’ve tracked you down to ask if you’ll consider being a member of the 1994 English Quidditch team.”
Charlie gaped. “We lost the Quidditch Cup last year! You’re asking me to practice with the team that will compete at the World Cup! Are you sure?”
Bagman nodded earnestly. “Your team was made of mostly second years, Weasley! You exhibited magnificent skill and leadership, and we believe you’d make a brilliant addition to the team!”
Charlie hesitated. “I was planning to take up a career in dragon-handling.”
Ludo laughed. “The Ministry would be happy to explain your situation to the reservation.”
Paapet jerked on the leash hard, effectively startling Charlie out of his dazed shock. He glanced at the edge of the bonfire to see what was happening. Mafalda had removed the egg from the fire with fire tongs. The tip of a snout was peeking out of the eggshell.
Paapet caught Charlie’s gaze. He looked deep into her protective, anxious eyes – they were as gold as the Snitch he once chased after in his glory days of Hogwarts. As the crumpled baby dragon lifted itself out of the eggshell, Paapet broke free of Charlie’s flaccid grip on the leash, and rushed toward the newborn. She engulfed it in a wreath of cool fire, and the baby crooned with pleasure.
Charlie felt butterflies float in his stomach that were identical to those he caught during the exhilaration of a game. His heart pounded in his veins. But another feeling accompanied that rush – pure love flowed through his body, filling him with a glow he had never felt.
He imagined the cheers of a Quidditch crowd, the sound of the wind rushing past his face, the smell of a Quidditch field, the smoothness of Quidditch robes…none of it compared to this.
Turning back to the fire, he smiled at Bagman. “I’m afraid not.”
Totally ignoring the man’s protests, he turned to gently stroke the new baby’s wings under its mother’s golden eyes.