When I first stumbled into Harry Potter lore, the characters sprang at me from the pages, just as they did for many of you. After reading Book Five I began identifying pieces of the characters in people that I knew personally. Some pieces larger than others…

He was the tall, strong and gentle headmaster. The professor of professors among our small Hogwarts community. Our leader. Our anchor. He even had a funny hat to wear with his position.

She was the ever-present and ever-protective right-hand professor. She ruled the school with as much tenacity as any Minister of Magic ever could. She didn’t wear a hat. She didn’t need to.

He was the grandfather-type who entertained and educated us with every conversation. She was the no-nonsense matriarch who kept everyone on task, including him.

She stood by his side through the ups and downs of forging a new frontier. She dutifully gathered the brooms and arranged the class schedules. She loved us and mothered us and admonished us when necessary to make sure we could stand on our own someday. She quirked an eyebrow each time he cracked a joke.

Both were icons in my early adult years. They were there when the rest of my life stretched endlessly before me. They carried with them an immense respect for each other’s spirit and space. Always keeping their propriety, they were a dynamic duo, a hardworking team.

I will never forget the first time I heard her address him as anything other than the title by which we all called him. “Bill,” she said simply, as unassuming as the stoic voice that began quiet conversations with, “Albus…”

She retired just before he did. A lady always knows when to leave. Neither has been at our little Hogwarts for close to ten years. Students and professors have come and gone in the years since. Yet we can never deny the lasting impact of these two stately figures on who we were and who we are now.

As they placed his wand in his casket and prepared the White Tomb, we learned that she, too, had slipped quietly through the smoky veil. We mourn all over again the end of an era that was already in the annals of our history. The closing of the coffins echoes the closing of Book Seven. And the rest of us are left to write the next series without them.

Rest in peace, professors. We’ll see you in the portrait frames.