Author’s note: YEA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I am finally posted on
Sugarquill! Okay, I’d just like to say thank you to my friends, for not
punching me whenever I said I would finish it and then totally forgot; thanx to
my sister, who gave me the idea of Neville’s present; and thanx to J.K.
Rowling, for giving us a world in which we can temporarily borrow. Please
Neville woke up feeling content. It
was Christmas. He had no homework. He was home, where no one teased him. And he was about as far away from Snape as
he could get. Neville sat snuggled in his bed, nice and warm under the covers,
until a sudden realization came to him- there were presents downstairs!
entered the drawing room to set his eyes on a magnificent tree. Its tall branches
glittered with magical snow, and under it lay a mountain of presents. Fairies
danced in the sweet smelling boughs, while the angel on top of the tree sang
her pretty tune. Neville felt a wave of happiness wash over him, and he ran
over to his gran and kissed her on the cheek. After wishing some of his other
relatives a merry Christmas, he sat down and started in on his pile.
hour later the whole pile was gone. Neville had gotten many presents, and was
feeling even happier than he had been before. He wrapped his neck in his new
scarf, ready to go outside. He was going to plant the snapdragon that he had
gotten from Uncle Algae, which was trying to find something to chew. He was
halfway out the door when his gran called, “Neville! Come back. You have one
up with excitement and ran into the room. He grabbed the present, read the tag…
and his heart stopped.
stared in complete shock for a few seconds, but then a thought appeared in his
stunned brain: How could she do this to
me!? Neville’s eyes roved over the tag once more, and he read:
We give to you this present not only
because we love you, but also because we are proud of you. We know you will become a great wizard, and hopefully this
trinket of mine will help.
Your Dad and
could not believe Gran would do this. Ever since he could remember Neville had
gotten presents from his parents for Christmas. He had been a second year when
he had figured out that the presents, those presents that showed that his
parents did love him, were really
from his grandmother. He had cried for hours, but finally he had come to grips
with reality. Now he was fifteen years old. He was no child, living in a dream
world full of imaginary love. He could deal with the fact that his parents, no
matter how much it hurt, would never come back.
obviously Gran didn’t think so. It hurt him more than he could ever say that
she didn’t think him mature enough to understand. His thoughts were interrupted by someone saying, “Go on,
Nev. Open it.”
Slowly Neville unwrapped the long
rectangular box. It was vaguely familiar, but Neville couldn’t put his finger
on where he’d seen it before. He opened the box to reveal a dusty and extremely
Huh? Neville thought. He already had a
wand. But then he remembered what the note had said: this trinket of mine. It suddenly clicked. Neville picked up the
wand, fingering it lovingly. He was holding his father’s wand! Ever since he was little he had wanted to hold
something of his father’s. But he had never dreamed of having his wand.
Gran,” Neville murmured. “Tell them ‘thank you’ the next time you see them.”
up the snapdragon, pulled his scarf out of its mouth, and was once again stepping
out into the snow when his grandmother said, “Actually, Neville, you can say it
yourself. We’re going to see your parents over lunch.”
heart sank to his feet with a thud that Neville thought his gran could hear.
For the second time that day he had the unpleasant feeling of his good mood
dissipating into dust. He could not see
his parents, not today. He could not stand seeing them on a day that should
have been full of happiness. It tore him apart, seeing his parents act like two
year olds, or worse, screaming and cowering in fear of a horror only they could
see. “Do I have to?” Neville
asked, although he knew what was coming next.
his grandmother said in a shocked voice. “ Your parents gave their sanity for
you. They sacrificed themselves so you would be safe, and you don’t even want
to see them on Christmas! I’m ashamed at how selfish you are. Now go up to your room and make yourself
presentable. We’re leaving in an hour.”
minutes later Neville was saying goodbye to his relatives, most of whom were
giving him pitying looks. Soon they were gone, and it was just him and Gran.
She pulled out a medallion, and told him to grab on to it. The ministry, which
felt sorry for the Longbottoms, had given them permission to have Portkeys for
access to the hospital for whenever they needed.
his gran mumbled to herself, “two, one.” And with that Neville felt the
familiar jerk as he was pulled forward. Spinning, spinning, faster and faster,
and then… suddenly they were in the lobby of St. Mungo's.
fell down onto the familiar carpeting, remembering the many times this same
scene had been blurred with tears. He sighed, picked himself up, and started up
the stairs behind his gran. On his way up he said ‘hi’ to some portraits, but
mostly he didn’t say anything at all. They reached the ‘Spell Damage’ floor,
and turned onto the ward that held Neville’s parents. They were admitted at
once, and although Neville would rather have been anywhere else, he marched
quickly up to his parents’ beds. Their curtain was open, and he could see them
happily playing a Muggle game called Candy Land. He didn’t want to ruin their
good mood, so he pulled up a chair and watched them play.
While he watched, he took the time
to notice how their health had been recently. Neville thought they looked…
okay. His mum’s hair, aged like the rest of her by the
Cruciatus curse, was whiter and stringier than it had been last summer. Both of
his parents had dark blue circles under their eyes, signs of the nightmares
Neville knew haunted them after the sun went down. His father’s skin was ashen,
and his brown hair was mixed with gray. At the moment there was joy in both
sets of blue and brown eyes, but there was also still a haunted look that
lurked in the shadows, threatening to overcome them.
It took ten
minutes before the Longbottoms noticed anyone was there. His mum gave a
startled gasp, and moved to hide behind her husband. His dad was able to let
out a quiet and very shy, “Hi,” before averting his eyes.
children would be upset over this reaction from their parents, Neville was
relieved. Last time he had been here, the sight of an unfamiliar person had
sent his parents screaming, and they soon had been in one of their daymares.
His parents couldn’t remember anything unless they were reminded of it every
day. It used to bring him to tears, but now he was able to swallow them down.
His parents would soon get used to him. It would just take a while.
“Hi Mum! Hi Dad!” Neville said in a
falsely cheery voice. “Merry Christmas!”
His mum stared at him, trying to
place him, and she finally managed a “Who…” Sometimes Neville couldn’t believe
it. They still couldn’t manage whole sentences, and they had been recovering
for fourteen years. At the same time though, it was what he had been waiting to
see. He had been waiting, deep in his heart, for a sign that his parents were
not recovering. That way, he could smother his hope, keeping it far away so it
couldn’t break his heart.
Mum. Neville. Can I play with you guys?” Just when they were about to answer,
Healer Strout came in, carrying a bundle of presents. Most of them went to
Lockhart, but two of them went to his mum and dad.
at the presents in a confused sort of way for a minute, then looked up at
Neville in complete bewilderment. He knew he would have to help them.
Mum. You tear it. Like this.” And with that he ripped open a present, revealing
the potted lilies Neville had worked for months on. They were the special ones,
grown under certain constellations, so that they glowed when it was dark. He
had grown them as a sort of protection against their nightmares, thinking maybe
a light would penetrate the darkness of their fears.
from me. I grew them myself. Do you like them?”
could barely stand to see their response. He turned to see if they would
answer, and was rewarded for his bravery with no response at all. They didn’t
seem to understand. They simply stared.
first time since they got there his gran intervened, saying, “Neville gave this
to you. He loves you. Don’t you appreciate that? Come on, Frank. I know you
love flowers. And lilies used to be your favorite kind. Remember, you made
Alice carry them at your wedding?”
some of this had just clicked. But instead of this making them feel grateful,
it looked to Neville as if they were
starting to immerse themselves in memories, and he could tell none of
them were good. He knew what was going to happen in a few minutes, and he
couldn’t stand to watch them when it did. He was just about to run out of the
room when there was an ear splitting, heart-wrenching scream that split through
the silence normally found in a hospital. Neville saw, out of the corner of his
eye, his mother, who was curled up into a ball with her eyes rolled up into her
head. She convulsed, screaming and trying to cover herself as if she was being
tortured.. Seconds later, his dad joined in, screaming in a voice just as high
pitched and terrorized as his mother’s. On him the effects seemed to be worse,
as he was crying. He couldn’t even pull himself into a ball through the pain.
Neville’s head rang with the sound
of their awful screams; his heart beat doubly as fast at the terror he knew
they felt. He couldn’t stand to sit by and watch them relive the horror they
had gone through just to protect him. He had to get out, had to escape the
horrible, all-consuming guilt he felt that was made worse and worse each time
he witnessed one of his parents’ “attacks”. He had to escape the sound of their
screams, which went on taunting him, teasing him to do something to save them.
He needed to leave the sight of the people who were supposed to protect him,
support him, and love him bawling and screaming their guts out. He couldn’t
deal with it; it was just too much. Suddenly he started doing something he
hadn’t done since Moody’s unforgettable Unforgivable lesson: he started to cry.
tears streamed down his face, and a wail that didn’t belong to his parents joined
into the symphony of misery. He tried to stop them, tried to be brave, but they
seemed to have to get out, and it was almost a relief to be crying. He felt
stupid standing there, and was embarrassed to be crying in front of the rest of
the ward, who were all looking at the three of them in combined sympathy and
concern. While it worried everybody else in the room that there was another
person in pain, his parents seemed to be brought back to reality by the sound
of another’s screams. His dad had stopped crying, and his mom’s eyes went back
to staring straight forward. Both had lowered the volume of the shrieks, and
the convulsions seemed to be lessening.
his parents were calmed down, Neville’s tears stopped. He felt better now that
they had been let out, as if he had been cleansed. His parents, on the other
hand, looked completely dreadful. They looked even grayer than before, were
still shaking slightly, and seemed absolutely exhausted. His gran decided that
they needed to be put to bed, and as they were moving over to his parents’
beds, he saw Lockhart escape out the door. He pointed it out to Healer Strout,
and then hurried over to help Gran put his parents to bed.
pulled the curtains over the beds, activating the silencing charm. He went to
his dad’s bed, where the lilies still lay, and put them up on their shelves
that were attached to the wall. On the shelves were other possessions, such as
books, letters, and pictures. Neville looked at the pictures, and noticed that
most of them were of him. Almost all of
the letters were written by him, also. He knew that the nurses had put them up,
but it still made him feel good.
felt terrible that he had caused yet more of their pain, and so he started
apologizing. He didn’t really know what he said exactly. All he knew was that
he loved them, he wanted them to have a good Christmas, and he hoped they’d get
better soon. When Gran said they would have to go in a few minutes, Neville
murmured a quiet,” I love you, Mum.” When he said this, she got tears in her
eyes, and looked around wildly, as if looking for someone. Setting her eyes on
Neville, she pulled him in close and gave him a hug. That was all Neville
needed. He sat there, warm and wanted in his mother’s arms, feeling as if he
was someone who mattered. All his life he had wanted a real Christmas present
from his parents. This was the best thing he could have gotten.
he was not happy. It was not good enough. She was hugging him because she
needed as much comfort as he did, and not because she really loved him. She
would never really love him, because she would never really know him.
minutes, his dad fell asleep, and his mum looked almost there. So he and Gran
left, with only a simple goodbye.
heard Healer Strout’s remark to his grandmother, and he was startled out of his
wits when he heard his own name being called across the room.
“Neville!” He jumped, scared that such a
volume meant more screaming, and more horrific daymares. But it turned out to
be almost worse.
Neville!” And Neville finally recognized whom the voice belonged to, and as he
did he wanted to run away. He could not see them. Not here. Not now.
Ron did not
seem to be aware of Neville’s discomfort, however, and kept on talking. “Have
you seen? Lockhart’s here! Who’ve you been visiting?”
would never tell them. He couldn’t stand to be pitied. But of course, Gran did
not seem to understand.
yours, Neville, dear?” she asked in her overly polite tone, veering towards the
opposite direction Neville wanted to go. He couldn’t stop her though, and he
had to follow. He saw them Ron, Harry, Hermione and Ginny, all standing around
Lockhart’s bed. He observed all of them without staring obviously. Ron,
Hermione and Ginny were all looking at him with pleased, curious expressions,
and he expected the same from Harry. He was surprised when what he saw on
Harry’s face was concern, sympathy and anxiety. But how could that be? Neville wanted to know. There was no way
Harry could know about his parents. Or could he?
Yes, yes, I know who you are, of course.” Gran went on in a high and mighty
tone. “Neville speaks most highly of you.” Now Neville was extremely
embarrassed. Now it sounded like he… hero-worshipped Harry. Harry’s polite,
“Er-thanks,” was lost on Neville, and the only thing he could focus on was to
not make eye contact.
two are clearly Weasleys,” she continued on, shaking Ron and Ginny’s hands.
“Yes, I know your parents- not well, of course- but fine people, fine people…
and you must be Hermione Granger? Yes, Neville’s told me all about you. Helped
him out of a few sticky spots, haven’t you?”
Gran, Neville thought. Make me look
like a complete idiot.
“He’s a good boy, but he hasn’t
got his father’s talent, I’m afraid to say…” And Neville was horrified to see
that she gestured over to his parents’ beds. Neville had wanted to tell his
friends a different way, when he was ready. He was definitely not ready now.
“What? Is that
your dad down there, Neville?” Ron
asked, in an amazed kind of voice.
obviously not the response Gran had been expecting. She barked out, “What’s
this? Haven’t you told your friends about your parents, Neville?” Neville could
not look at anyone, or else he’d surely start crying again. He also didn’t
think he could stand it if his gran lectured him in front of his few friends.
He nodded slightly, and braced himself for the reaction this would have.
nothing to be ashamed of! You should be proud,
Neville, proud! They didn’t give
their health and sanity so their only son would be ashamed of them, you know!”
could not believe she thought he was ashamed. The only reason he didn’t tell
people was because he did not want people to hate him because it was his fault
that his parents were in that condition. He had never considered being ashamed.
ashamed,” he said, although very light, as he thought if he spoke any louder,
he would probably start to cry again.
response was typical of Gran. “Well you’ve got a funny way of showing it!”
Then, talking to Ron, Harry, Ginny, and Hermione, she said, “My son and his
wife were tortured into insanity by You-Know-Who’s followers.”
waited, still not looking at them, but knowing that the drop of the bombshell
normally caused the exact same reaction. There would be hands over mouth
surprise, eyes full of sympathy… he had seen it all before.
Aurors, you know, and very well respected within the Wizarding community.
Highly gifted, the pair of them. I- yes, Alice dear, what is it?”
turned around quickly at the sound of his mother’s name, and found her standing
close by, eyes focused on him, in the sweet, protective two year-old phase she
tended to get. Her arm was stretched towards him, and he knew she wanted to
give him something. She always wanted to give him something at the end.
Gran asked impatiently. “Very well, Alice dear, very well- Neville, take it,
whatever it is…”
already reached out his hand, willing it to be a note, a picture, a special
token of love… But of course it wasn’t. It was a candy wrapper. It would always
be a candy wrapper.
hear what his grandmother said to her daughter in law, but he knew what he
should say. “Thanks, Mum”
seemed content with that response, and she turned back to her bed, much happier
than she had been ten minutes ago. Neville needed to know if they were
laughing. He may not be the strongest person around, but if anyone laughed at
his parents, he would have to teach them a lesson. He wheeled around to face
them… and was surprised to see no one was amused. Every single one of them
seemed to be horrified, and he almost would have rather seen them laughing.
better get back. Very nice to have met you all. Neville, put that wrapper in
the bin, she must have given you enough of them to paper your bedroom by now…”
course, Neville didn’t throw it away. He kept it. After all, that was the only
real present he would ever get from his parents.