There was a loud murmur as the Order settled back into their seats after receiving their Medals of Outstanding Service from the Ministry. Once quiet ensued Julian Smigeon cleared his throat and held aloft another medal, a higher honor.
“For bravery above and beyond the call of duty, the Medal of Valor goes to the following. When your name is called, please come forward.” He cleared his throat again as the huge gathering of wizards turned their attention from their drinks and desserts once more. “Sara Potter.”
Harry and Sara grinned at each other with delight at the use of her new name and he squeezed her hand as she left her seat.
“Sara, this medal is given for your ingenuity, resourcefulness, and also for endangering your own life to save another when all threat to you had been vanquished. It is said that without your unique abilities and your brilliance in planning, the attack on the Dark Lord would have failed and Draco Malfoy would have succumbed to his injuries. I award you the Medal of Valor.” He removed the Medal of Outstanding Service and replaced it with a new one.
“Thank you, Minister.” Sara said and gave him a humble smile.
“No, thank you, my dear. And congratulations on your wedding. You looked stunning if I may say so.”
Sara blushed, nodded her thanks, and returned to her seat feeling suddenly shy.
“Dobby the House Elf.”
Dobby approached the podium, visibly nervous, with his ears flat and his big eyes shooting around the room. He went down on his knees at the Smidgeon’s feet and looked at the floor.
“Stand up, Dobby.”
Dobby stood as he was told.
Smidgeon got down on his knees. “Dobby, this medal is given for the simple fact that you took it upon yourself, a free servant, to mount an army and attack a foe even I would hesitate to face. No one asked you to, no one ordered you to engage in a battle with wizards. I have never seen such integrity in a house elf and I doubt anyone else has, either. It is said that without you and your army, the battle against the Dark Lord was already lost. You are a role model for elves everywhere, Dobby, and an asset to Hogwarts. I award you the Medal of Valor.”
“Thank you, Sir!” Dobby squealed, “Dobby loves living at Hogwarts!”
Dumbledore spoke from his seat. “And let it be known, Dobby, that you may remain there as long as you wish.”
Dobby returned to his seat and showed his medal to Winky.
“And now,” Smigeon spoke with importance, “for unfathomable courage, self-sacrifice, and something quite beyond valor, I award the Minister’s Medal of Heroism to... I have to admit, I’m a bit nervous about this, as well- deserved as it is. The Vampire Nikolae.”
Nikolae, having found new hairs for his polyjuice which he claimed provided a resemblance close to his own, proceeded to the podium. The Minister’s voice had grown shaky with the fear Nikolae’s presence prompted in mortals and he shrunk away.
“Please.” Nikolae said with his calm, soothing voice and his gentle manner. “I will not harm you.” He put out his hand and Smigeon shook it with frightened hesitance.
“Forgive me, sir.” Smigeon said, regaining his composure, “Your actions do not warrant such a reception.” He cleared his throat. “This medal is given for your selfless acts, your willingness to compromise yourself for the sake of others and your service to a race that has nothing to do with your own. You did not have to do what you did, but you allowed yourself to be harmed, suffered great pain, and from what I understand, may have laid there in agony for days without help. You turned a threat to the advantage of the Order, a threat that would have been the end of them without doubt. And I hear you even wore a dress for the occasion.” Smigeon smiled and there was a rupture of laughter through the crowd. “Nikolae, in the name of wizards everywhere, I award you the highest honor we can give you.” Smigeon stepped forward without fear and placed the medal around the vampire’s neck. “And tell your friends in Romania that they are welcome here anytime. I have some medals for them as well if they’d care to visit.”