The End Has No End
Spoilers: Up to and including Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince.
Disclaimer: Characters and settings are from the Harry
Potter books by J. K. Rowling. Lyrics are from ‘The End Has No End’ by The
Strokes, from their Room on Fire album.
“One by one, ticking
time bombs won,
It’s not the secrets
of the government that’s keeping you dumb,
Oh it’s the other way
around, wait, what’s that sound?
One by one, baby, here
oak tables. They had been the centre of centuries’ worth of noise and cheer but
now were gone – supplanted by an arrangement of foldaway beds hastily put up in
the centre of the vast room.
platform, standing aloof from the rest of the Great Hall, was now barred from
view. Black drapes were shrouding away all but the very tips of the fingers on
a pale, limp hand.
always been like this.
blankets and freshly laundered sheets awaited use on the spot where her black
and yellow wearing classmates had held sway, restraining giggles as neighbours
in silver and green suffered another comeuppance. More, sporting blue and
bronze, regarded such scenes with an air of resignation from their own vantage
point – now a row of beds with occupants so weak that the quietest moans of
pain were beyond them.
been party decorations. The tempting smells of feasts cooked by the army of
faithful house-elves. Excited chatter on the morning of a Quidditch match.
Nervous contemplation as exams approached.
of both the magical and non-magical communities were fighting for their lives.
How had it
come to this?
consequences of the Ministry’s denial and incompetence surrounded her like a
flood as she negotiated her way through the doomed and dying. In his war
against the rest of the magical community, Voldemort had destroyed the lives of
many people like these once they had proved to be of no value to him. Lying
here were the ones lucky enough to escape immediate death or torture at his or
the Death Eaters’ hands. Lucky enough to be holed up in Hogwarts and await an
uncertain end? How could that be luck? she
thought to herself.
indignation Ginny Weasley felt at the sight of these people was a bitter pill
to swallow. Since the withdrawal of many students from the school by their
anxious parents – Hogwarts was no longer considered an impenetrable fortress
since the invasion of the Death Eaters and the murder of Dumbledore – the Order
of the Phoenix had used the extra space to house the injured. Ginny was
bewildered at the thought of anyone being depraved enough to show such
disregard for humanity, and her anger had driven her to do whatever she could
to fight back.
a Gryffindor for nothing. Yet once more, as it had almost done nearly two years
previously when she had joined a rescue mission to save Sirius Black, her age
held her back and she was restricted to helping the now ever-present Healers on
their rounds. She told herself frequently that this was no less noble than
being out there and fighting the Dark Lord and his followers. The Order needed
all the help it could get, and if there was no one to help the injured
recuperate, what kind of world would be left when those on the front line had
managed to save it?
mention that the Ministry of Magic was hardly any help. It was weak, and the
Minister himself was weaker because of his own stubborn refusals in the past to
trust the Order and its leaders.
preyed on the weak.
members constantly patrolled the grounds now, protecting the students who had
chosen to remain. Never alone – that was too dangerous – and never in pairs,
but always in threes. That way, in the event of an attack, one could send for
help as another defended themselves and the injured party.
with this was that the witches and wizards of the Order had become somewhat
jumpy. The slightest twitch of the undergrowth or ripple of breeze upon the
surface of the lake was enough to convince the over zealous amongst them to
leap into action, resulting in more than one instance of frightened youngsters
being accosted for crimes no more serious than a spot of hand holding. “They
wandered away from the castle!” exclaimed their captors. “It looked suspicious,
and anyway, we can’t do our jobs when we lose sight of that lot instead of
well have been right. Still, it said it all when even simple, innocent displays
of affection had to be stopped because of higher things. It was a perfect
mirror reflecting upon the world at large.
restless steps finally brought her to a stop next to the bed of a girl no older
than herself, who shared the same flag of red hair. Currently, however, strands
of it were plastered to her face with cold sweat, bearing more of a resemblance
to one of Filch’s mops. Surprisingly, even Filch had been roped in by the newly
appointed Headmistress – McGonagall – to help the war effort. Hogwarts’ station
as an additional hospital meant that all available staff members were needed to
care for the vulnerable in addition to their teaching duties. Some things never
changed, of course, and the cantankerous caretaker could often be heard roaming
the corridors, muttering under his breath as he dragged around his bucket and
sponge. Even he, however, stopped his complaining as soon as he entered the
Hall. There was something about the place now, a feeling of fear contaminating
the air and tainting the happy memories of Hogwarts years past – a feeling ever
more palpable to the youngest Weasley as she worked where her own house table
had once stood. Shadows of maroon and gold, lingering shouts of joy at House
Cup victories, both broke through the painful scenes being played out around
her. There was nothing to be helped by complaining.
closer to the patient, Ginny noticed the fresh beads of sweat on the girl’s
forehead, her slight body overcome with shivers. Leaning downwards to take a
damp cloth and wipe the skin, lines from the report taped to the side of the
bed jumped from the page and caught her eye.
in fall when running away from Muggle house, the family having been attacked by
Death Eaters. Pneumonia caused by twelve hours spent outside at night having
been unable to reach shelter. Found by Aurors who arrived to search the scene.
No surviving relatives.”
wounded Ginny deeply, pathos for the young girl tugging at her heart. Attacks
like these were becoming more common as the followers of You-Know-Who became
bolder in their attempts to gain a hold on Britain. Perhaps the similarities
between helper and patient were what pained the former so. They may have had
different upbringings, but for a stroke of fate it could have been Ginny
herself lying unconscious on a rickety camp-bed in a foreign place, unaware
that she had been robbed of her family by people she had no hope of defending
herself against. It made her weep.
by a sudden onset of nausea – almost as much emotional as physical suffering –
Ginny had to grab one of the cold metal supports to steady herself, and sat
down on a low stool next to the bed in an attempt to hide away. Distressed as
she was, it would have benefited no one to see her cry.
at the walls of the Great Hall, Ginny attempted to calm herself by looking at
the gold-framed portraits now hanging there. They were staggeringly beautiful
not just in the depictions of their subjects, but in what they represented.
Only McGonagall herself, who had commissioned the paintings of these victims of
the Second Voldemort War, knew the exact reason for their prominent display.
Despite this, looking at them now, Ginny had a shrewd idea. She sat there,
feeling helpless and pathetic, when up there were reminders of people whose
lives had been given or taken away because of a man who was the biggest threat
to humanity that there had ever been!
paintings were not sombre, funereal images that merely captured the looks of
their subjects, placed here to depress onlookers. They were joyous glimpses
into happy moments of their lives – couples on their wedding days, sporty
youngsters in Quidditch uniforms preparing for their first games and siblings
standing in front of the homes they had fought so hard to protect. They were
paintings placed here to remind the viewer of blissful times that had been and
hopes of good times still to come – before that future had been denied them.
paintings were to remind everyone of what they were fighting for.
stood, turned to the beginning of the nearest row, and read. Names, dates,
occasions, and any other information she could glean from the portraits.
The Bones Family. Seventh year Hufflepuff Susan Bones’ cousins,
uncle and two of her aunts had been murdered because they were brave, true and
would not join a cause they did not believe in.
Frank Bryce. An innocent Muggle, symbol of all those
caught in the crossfire during Voldemort’s violent return to prominence. They
deserved to be honoured.
Lily and James Potter. Ginny’s heart swelled as she saw
the picture of Harry’s parents – parents of the boy she’d gone out with and
fallen for – on the day of their marriage. A handsome, smartly dressed James
kissed a contented Lily’s cheek, his face full of love. “That was what they
died for”, she thought to herself. Love for each other, for the son they vowed
to protect… and why not? If dying is inevitable, it may as well be for love as
opposed to any other human emotion. It was a noble thing that Lily and James
had done on that awful night, better than dying for hate as the fallen Death
Eaters had done. If push came to shove, Ginny wanted to do the same, and
protect the people she loved best or the values she held most highly.
Sirius Black. Godfather of the boy who’d now abandoned his
education, and gone out into the world to try to save it. The time she had
joined a mission to try to rescue Sirius, the night that had ultimately led to
his death, was the first encounter she’d had with You-Know-Who’s followers. It
had been her first taste of danger in this new climate, and yet she would still
do it all again if it meant she could save a life.
Stephanie Abbott. The mother of another seventh year who’d been
found dead in her home, a place where she’d thought she’d be safe.
Emmeline Vance. A warrior on the front line who’d been
murdered in a bloody battle to the death just yards from the seat of Muggle
authority – the home of the Prime Minister. Her demise was proof that war
wasn’t glamorous or exciting, but instead was cruel and fraught with
back to get a wider view of the Vance portrait, Ginny realised that it was the
last. Her deepest wish was that there would be no more.
paintings meant three things above all else to Ginny Weasley. The depiction of
Lily and James Potter strengthened her own desire to come out of this mess
alive and live a secure life with Harry, experiencing the same love that his
parents had shared. The Bones’ had the same familial solidarity that she wanted
the Weasleys to have for always. Frank Bryce was a reminder of the innocents
who needed to be protected from the world’s evil tyrants.
fight to achieve all those things in a scarier and increasingly more dangerous
carry on towards a better future.