“Oh look, Enid,
have you read the Prophet today?”
Longbottom looked up from his plate of eggs, sausage, and toast to glance at
his Gran, who was holding the paper out to her sister, Enid. It wasn’t unusual for the two of them to
share and discuss the morning paper over coffee in the morning, and supposing
they were discussing some new sale in Diagon Alley, Neville returned to his
eggs, which were much more interesting to him at the moment than listening to
his Gran and Aunt quibble about the price of pewter cauldrons. Gran always had to
keep a steady supply.
never…they went and did that? Can you
some sale then, Neville thought bemusedly as he considered letting his thoughts
wander to what he planned on doing in the garden that morning. He knew Gran wanted something done with those
snapping-roses, and he was sure that they would perk up if…
hear his great-uncles voice boom from upstairs.
“Enid, read the paper! Can you believe it?”
great-aunt smiled in exasperation at her sister, then called back, “Yes, Algie,
we are reading it down here ourselves, I just said that. Come down and discuss it, I’ll get you some
down the stairs, Algie’s footsteps made Neville cringe. He glanced up warily at his wild haired,
breathless great-uncle who stood in the doorway brandishing his own copy of the
and sacked Dumbledore off the Wizengamot! This country is going to the dogs for sure,”
He bellowed, nodding his head at his sister-in-law and his wife, who was
standing at the stove, coffee mug in hand.
“This is a
grave, grave time, that’s for sure.” Gran intoned in a deep, sad voice. “To think of what Frank would say if he could
frowned into his eggs then. He hated it
when Gran brought up his father like that.
His great, good, heroic father, why he wouldn’t stand for this, he would
have said something. Well, chances were
he probably would. Truth be told,
Neville felt like saying something too.
Dumbledore was a great wizard, and he was always sure to speak up to see
justice was done on the Wizengamot. Gran often spoke of
how fair minded he was. He wondered what
it was that caused them to kick him off.
because he’s telling the truth, you know,” Algie
sputtered as he sat at the table across from Neville, causing Neville to inch
away just a slight bit. “Because he has been saying what he has about….You-Know-Who.”
is. That idiot Fudge wouldn’t know a
Death Eater if he walked up and introduced himself. You see how he’s friendly like with that
Lucius Malfoy.” Gran shook her head and glared.
“Why, I think of what Frank said about that man, and it appalls me that
our own Minister would be seen with him.
No proof, mind you, those Malfoy’s were always a slippery group. The stories you would hear…”
decided now would be a good time to finish his eggs and head out to the
garden. Not that he disliked politics,
on occasion he did find it fascinating, but Gran had a tendency to carry on
about the things her dear husband did, or her dear son, and Neville would grow
weary of the tirade soon. He had heard
it all before, how his family had given so much for the wizarding world, and
how unappreciated they were, and look at all they had sacrificed and everyone
seemed to be ignoring that and allowing the same things to happen yet
again. It wasn’t that he didn’t care, it
was…well what could HE do about it?
He had just
stood up to gather his things to the sink and wash up his plate when Algie, who
had been peppering Gran’s tirade with, “right there, gel”, and “precisely, I
couldn’t agree more”, turned to Neville with wide, vehement eyes and stated,
“Why, if there were anything wrong with the boy’s mental health, Neville would
have noticed, wouldn’t you, my boy?”
Neville blinked in confusion at his great-uncle. “Huh?”
her head. “Oh, Algie, leave the boy
alone, he doesn’t keep up with all these stories.” Neville felt his face burn then. Gran never did think much of his ability to
keep up with the issues of the day.
been with the boy for four years now; he surely would have noticed
something. You haven’t seen
anything…funny out of Harry Potter have you?”
“Out of Harry?” Neville asked in bemusement. Funny things always happened to Harry. Neville lived in the same room with him and
nothing ever happened to him, but with Harry it was a new event every
week. “Nothing more
nothing, Neville, why don’t you clean up then.” His Gran tried to shoo him
away, but Algie persisted.
he’s got a right to hear it, ‘cause sure there will be those idiots when he
returns spouting it all up and down the halls.
Paper’s saying that Harry Potter’s off his nut.”
stared at his great-uncle. “Oh…” was all
that he could manage.
you’ve got him upset, Algie. You should have listened.” Aunt Enid sat back
down to her coffee then, shaking her head at her husband. “He’s not, dear, at least I don’t think he
is. Mind you, I think that whole
Tri-Wizard incident was quite the shock to the system, seeing that poor Diggory
boy die. But I don’t think…he’s lost his
She glanced coldly at her husband, who merely shrugged and
took a large gulp from his own coffee mug.
“Should have asked for tea.” He wrinkled his nose, as Enid
then frowning, picked up the paper again and held it in front of her face in
order to better ignore her husband.
Neville, I’m sure you can’t believe your friend is insane, and I don’t believe
he is either. Lord knows I don’t believe
that Dumbledore would keep a deranged student in school if he thought he was
truly a danger. Besides, remember all
he’s been through Neville. If you had to
live what he has lived with, perhaps you would be a bit more sympathetic.” Gran
smiled at him, an all too rare privilege, and Neville felt his cheeks burn at
this. All that HARRY had been though!
With a jerk
of her head, Gran indicated that he should go place his things in the
sink. After a quick rinse he mumbled
something about going out to the garden, and didn’t even acknowledge his
Gran’s, “fine dear, do try to keep your head covered”, as he trudged out the
Longbottom’s garden was a beautiful place; it had been first created by his
Grandfather as a place for his Gran to plant a few of her favorite rare and
magical plants. His mother had rather
liked it as well, and his Gran had faithfully managed the many additions Alice Longbottom had added on to the garden over the years since
his mother was in the hospital, occasionally gathering flowers to take to St.
Mungo’s on visits. Now it was Neville’s
responsibility mostly, and under his hands it had rather flourished and
thrived. Gran was rather proud of it, to
be honest, one of the few works of his that she was ever proud enough to brag
about. He filled a watering can and
walked over to the flower bed, quietly sprinkling each plant with water, lapsing
into quiet thought as he did so.
realized he wasn’t the world’s greatest student, nor was he ever going to grow
into a fine wizard…at least not like his father. His father, Frank, had been a hero of the
last war. Well liked and admired, he and
his wife had both fought against the forces of Lord Voldemort. Neville couldn’t even remember them as they
used to be. Everyone was outraged by the
tragedy of course, when they were tortured by Death Eaters, and on occasions
they would still bring it up in sad whispers.
Most had forgotten about it though, the Longbottoms and what had
happened, and no one had remembered the boy who was left behind.
Boy-Who-Lived’ he sometimes called himself.
wasn’t like Harry, who had gone up against He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named as a baby
and lived. Neville doubted that he could
have survived, if it had been him. After
all, he didn’t show any magic ability till Uncle Algie dropped him out of the
window and into the garden. Harry
probably was doing all sorts of things straight from the cradle. But still, everyone loved Harry because of
the fact that while everyone else in that conflict died, he had lived after his
attack. Everyone REMEMBERED Harry’s
name, no one remembered Neville’s.
they all now thought Harry was out of his mind.
Neville couldn’t help but feel a sort of small sense of satisfaction
with that. He immediately felt guilty
for it, and mentally kicked himself.
Harry had been nothing but nice to him, and here Neville was feeling
happy about what had happened.
couldn’t help it sometimes…that was just how he felt. Everything ALWAYS happened to HarryTheir first year Harry would sneak out and break the
rules, and while he may have gotten into trouble once or twice, he always ended
up the hero. Neville had felt like an
idiot because he had tried to do the right thing and stop them, but instead had
embarrassed himself and been left on the common room floor for an hour. Their second year hadn’t been much better. Everyone thought that Harry was doing those
horrible things, just because HE was a parseltongue. Not that Neville wanted to be a parseltongue,
and he was sure Harry didn’t appreciate everyone thinking he was Slytherin’s
heir. But really, it just showed what a
powerful wizard Harry was, much more so than Neville. Neville’s most notable feet at Hogwarts had
been to melt more pewter cauldrons in Potions than anyone else in the school’s
history. How embarrassing was that?
And as if
that wasn’t enough, Neville had heard Ginny whispering to one of her friends
once that Harry had been the one to save her life down in the Chamber of
Secrets that year, not Gilderoy Lockhart as many people believed, (though
Neville had spoken to his old professor while visiting St. Mungo’s, and the man
couldn’t have told you whether he did or didn’t if you had given him road map
and directions.) Harry, just a
12-year-old wizard taking on a dark monster in the bowls of the school, just to
save the life of his best friend’s sister.
Neville would never have considered that. His first instinct had been to run to Gryffindor
Tower like he was told to and wait
it out. He could never rush into danger
little wonder then when rumors started circulating the next year in the
Gryffindor Common Room that Sirius Black, the escaped convict, was out to get
Harry. Of course, it had made sense to
Neville. If you had to have one person
you’d break out of prison to kill, it would have to be brave, noble,
adventurous Harry. Why would you bother
with anyone else? At thirteen, he had
faced more than many grown wizards that Neville knew, and certainly more than
Neville could imagine himself managing.
Really, he hadn’t wanted Harry to be hurt, that was silly, and had been
truly upset and scared the night that Black broke into their room and nearly
killed Ron. But for the tiniest, perhaps
most imperceptible moment, Neville sort of wished…that he could be the object
of someone’s goals like that. He hadn’t
admitted it of course, after all, he was sure it wasn’t pleasant, but
still…what was it like to know that had to brave those sorts of things. Neville got weak in the knees thinking of how
best to face Professor Snape’s class.
As if to
prove how brave and clever he was though, the last and final insult was cast in
the previous year, with the Tri-Wizards Tournament. Neville, like so many other underage
wizards, had wished fervently that he too could enter. He had wanted so to please Gran, to prove to
her that yes, he too could live up to the family name of Longbottom. But he hadn’t thought or even given credence
to the idea that HE might be able to actually get into the tournament. Surely he would be punished even if he was
successful in getting his name into the Goblet.
So Neville hadn’t even tried, no one he knew
had. Then on the night of Halloween,
Harry’s name was drawn out. Neville
remembered the shock that he had felt, and the tightening in his stomach as
Harry silently stood and went into the room with the other champions. One thought had risen unbidden to his mind in
the silent moment in the Great Hall.
always happened to Harry.
as the Gryffindors celebrated, Neville thought about how the Hufflepuffs must
be feeling. He was rather fond of the
Hufflepuffs, was rather close to several thanks to his work in the Herbology
greenhouses. They were nice folk, and
Cedric was a nice boy, even though he was extremely handsome, according to
every female around him. Neville had
thought it was extremely unfair that the Gryffindors were eagerly anticipating
Harry’s participation, after all, did they LIKE hogging all the fame and glory? And there was Harry, wrapped up in a
Gryffindor flag, always the hero. It
wasn’t as if he didn’t go through this last year with the Quidditch cup, or
even his first year, when the Quidditch team had beat Slytherin for the first
time in years. Harry was always getting
this sort of reception; he was after all Harry, the best Seeker in Hogwarts
history, the only First Year to get a spot on a house team, the youngest in a
century. And there was Neville, not even
able to mount a broom without falling off and breaking his wrist.
Perhaps he could But Neville wondered if Harry rather
liked being in the seat of glory.
Perhaps he was rather used to it now, and couldn’t help himself. Oh, Neville never said anything, he was too embarrassed
to, and truth be known, a little afraid to admit
it. The other Gyffindors wouldn’t take too
kindly to him speaking out of house. But…well even Ron wasn’t speaking to Harry then, and he was Harry’s
best friend. Perhaps there was
something to what Neville thought, but he’d never say anything out loud of
had to admit that he was rather frightened for Harry when it came down to
it. He was glad he didn’t have to go
through that tournament after all. The
dragons were down right terrifying, and Neville had spent much of the time with
his eyes closed hoping Harry wouldn’t be burned. And then at the lake, he was sure Harry
wasn’t returning, even the Slytherins jokingly discussed the odds of the Giant
Squid having eaten him. To be honest,
Neville really did like Harry despite all this fame and everything, he was
always nice to Neville, and he surely didn’t want anything to happen to him.
third challenge, Neville was indeed rooting for Harry to win, perhaps along
with Cedric. His resentment had been put
aside in the hopes that maybe one of them would bring the trophy home for
Hogwarts. He had waited breathlessly in
the stands, hoping that the two would come out, and when they did, he was
rather confused. Why was there such a
large crowd around them? Why was Cedric
on the ground? When word finally got
around to Neville that Cedric was dead, he was shocked, and dismayed. He had thought, rather irrationally of
course, that perhaps Harry had done it in order to claim the prize for his
own. But no, Harry wasn’t like that…was
confusion of the days that followed, Neville hadn’t seen or even spoken to
Harry. They had all been told to leave
him alone. Neville had respected
Dumbledore and Professor McGonagall’s request, but he saw Harry in his
room. He knew that whatever it was that
Harry saw, whatever it was that killed Cedric, it wasn’t good. It never occurred to Neville that what Harry
saw, the thing that killed Cedric, was the very wizard who was supposed to be
dead all these years. It was utterly
unbelievable, laughable. why in the
world would Harry Potter of all people see this thing, why wouldn’t anyone else
know about it, why would someone so evil try so hard to reach one little boy,
especially just to come back and rule the world?
always happens to Harry.
hadn’t wanted to believe it, not really, not even when he dutifully explained
it all to Gran the next day after arriving home, not when he had heard his aunt
and grandmother discuss it over breakfast and the paper, not when Uncle Algie
had stood fast to belief that ‘the boy hasn’t lied yet, why would he lie about
something like this?” Neville hadn’t
wanted to believe it because it was too horrible, too unreal, just like
everything else that happened to Harry.
To Neville Longbottom nothing fantastic, uncertain, or frightening ever
seemed to happen. Why, for once,
couldn’t Harry just be like normal boys, not ‘The Boy Who Lived”
couldn’t Neville for once live a life less than ordinary?
came down to it, in a twisted sort of way he wished he was Harry. Oh, he knew he was a coward, why the Sorting
Hat ever chose him for Gryffindor was beyond Neville. He tried to tell himself it was because of
some inner strength he had, some core of courage he had yet to tap, but in the
face of Harry with all his bravado, his courage, his willingness to throw
himself into the fray…well Neville couldn’t live up to that. It was small wonder that people remembered Harry;
because he was always doing things that people would remember him for. Neville was always forgettable.
door to Gran’s house slammed, but Neville didn’t notice. He was too lost in thought to really pay much
attention. He didn’t hear the huffing
and shuffling behind him, not till his uncle’s loud voice boom in the vicinity
of his left shoulder.
watering that daisy all day, Nev?”
he guffawed, slapping his great-nephew on the back. Neville jumped so high, water sloshed out of
the can he was using to absentmindedly water the plants, and was soon soaked
through his robes.
“Aurgh, no, what?” He turned in fright to face his uncle,
who only laughed.
“I tell your
Gran you aren’t skittish cause
you are frightened, you are just a deep thinker. Like all the Longbottoms, you Grandfather would
mull over an issue for days, drive your Gran mad it would. Never acted before he thought it out, weighed
all the sides. Your Gran, she’s fiery,
she likes to just act, drove her nutty how your Grandfather would carry
on. And she would wail to Enid
about how her husband was a coward.”
stared at Uncle Algie then.
“Grandfather…a coward? She always
carries on about how brave and noble he was.” Grandfather had been a
Gryffindor, just like all the Longbottoms, and the idea of him being called coward
was unthinkable to Neville.
now she does, but when she was younger, oh she would frown at him and berate
him as being afraid. Frank too, they
were all the same. Always carefully
chose what they would do, but when they chose, they stuck to it with
ferocity. Couldn’t turn
them back from it either. Ffortitude was what they had, and you had to have it with
your Gran around. Don’t be fooled, the
Longbottom men were brave, massively so, but they didn’t just recklessly throw
themselves into everything that happened along their path.”
sighed, looking down at his soaked robes.
“Unlike me, who can’t seem to stick up for anything?”
frowned at his nephew. “That’s not true,
Nev. I look at you and that’s not true. What, do you think because you aren’t living
some life of danger somewhere as some Auror, that it means you aren’t brave?”
wanted to howl. “Well, I’m definitely
not brave like Harry Potter,” he mumbled.
chuckled and shook his head. “Course
you’re not, Nev, ‘cause you’re not Harry Potter.”
stared at his uncle as if this fact should be obvious, but Algie
continued. “Look, Nev,
when you were small, there was a lot of things going on. It just so happens that your parents and the
Potters were all mixed up in it. Many
good people died or were forever changed, and I imagine if you spoke to many of your classmates, they could tell you stories of
their parents, aunts, and uncles that would rival anything you or Harry have to
tell about your parents.”
never considered that. Yes, he couldn’t
be the only wizarding child whose family was ruined by the troubles, and
neither was Harry.
“So you and
Harry aren’t that special, nor are you so similar because of what
happened. You are still you, and Harry
is still Harry, and that’s just the way it is.”
shrugged. “But Harry…he’s always off
doing...stuff, and he is good at it. Even
when he’s breaking the rules, he still manages.”
shrugged. “So…I bet he still has plenty
of problems because of it too. Look at
this whole hullabaloo over the Tri-Wizard Tournament, people think he’s
raving! Do you think he’s insane?”
only hesitated for the briefest of moments before mumbling, “No.”
I don’t either. But I will guarantee
that many folk around these parts will think that he is though, and will think
that Dumbledore is senile as well.”
Dumbledore isn’t!” Neville protested, and Algie held up a hand.
that, you know that, but others won’t.
They will only see what the Minister says. And that’s not fun; it’s the down side of
being a celebrity. Imagine what it’s
like for Harry, living all your life in anonymity only to be thrown into a
spotlight you didn’t want. All you
wanted was to be a normal boy, with your parents, and friends, and be just like
everyone else, and instead everyone is scrutinizing your every mistake. I’d not envy Harry if I were you, Neville, I’d pity him in a way. You may have lost your parents too, but at
least you had your Gran, and your Aunt Enid, and I to
make your life a little normal. And
heaven knows, I didn’t make it easy for you, but you had a good life.” Algie
nodded. “Better than I suspect Harry has
hadn’t mentioned the stories he’d heard of Harry’s Muggle relations, Neville
didn’t think Gran would approve. But he
knew his uncle was right, Neville had gotten something Harry had not, a normal,
happy life. He wondered if Harry ever
looked at him and been envious of that, that because Neville seemed to jump at
every shadow, at least he didn’t have eyes watching his every move.
you have a point, then,” Neville said.
do. And you should stop thinking you
aren’t good enough because you aren’t your father or Harry Potter. You are Neville Longbottom, that’s who you
are, and brave in your own right. Who is
it that won Gryffindor the House Cup his first year?”
startled to remember that, he had forgotten.
“Oh, yeah…that was me!” He rarely
ever remembered that it was his willingness to try to get his friends to do the
right thing that caused Neville to win those precious points that topped them
over the Slytherins.
who is it that despite all the cauldrons he burns and all the criticism he
takes from a great, hook nosed git, still stays with his Potions rather than
run off in fear from his professor.”
suppose I…” Neville began, and Algie interrupted.
was able to take on two of the biggest bullies in school even though he knew he
was outnumbered, and who was able to ask the smartest girl in his year out to a
Crabbe and Goyle did knock me cold, remember, and Hermione said no,” Neville
reminded his uncle.
those two great brutes had to put up a fight before they managed to knock you
out, and that young lady turned you down not because of you, because she had
someone else, and one of her friends came in and said she would like to attend
with you, didn’t she?”
surprised, I thought Ginny fancied Harry.”
might, but she thought well enough of you to not let you go alone, now didn’t
suppose she did.” Neville smiled.
you have your own bravery. It’s just not
as showy as some people’s. Your father’s
wasn’t either, nor was his father’s. You are just you, Neville, and while madmen
aren’t looking for you, it doesn’t make you any less brave.” His uncle nodded
wisely to him. “And I bet that if you
spoke to Harry, he’d be more than pleased to have you on his side there. I have a feeling in the next year he could
use all the friends he could get.”
stared at his uncle in amazement. Was he
suggesting he take Harry’s side?
turned then, as if to make for the house, and then stopped to look thoughtfully
at his nephew. “You know, if all this is
true, then there will be bad times ahead.
I know that you aren’t any great shake at Defense, and well, that’s to
be expected with all that’s going on. I
hear Harry’s not bad at it, suppose with that Tri-Wizard business he had to
learn a hex or two to get him through.
And you will all need it soon, I surmise. So maybe you could ask him for some help on
that. You might surprise yourself; you
might be good at it, better than you think.”
His uncle smiled broadly at him then, and stumped off to the house,
cheerily singing a tune Neville was sure his Gran wouldn’t approve of.
stared at the garden thoughtfully. He
had wasted so much energy resenting Harry he never stopped to think what it was
like to be in his shoes. To be always known and have no privacy, all because of
a scar, to know that your future was always at the whim of people who wanted to
kill you, to be uncertain whether you could even live a normal life, not that
you’ve ever gotten to up to this point, must be horrible. Suddenly being Harry didn’t sound like it was
nearly as appealing as it once had.
Neville had so desperately wanted to be all the things that Harry was,
and didn’t stop to consider what all those things also entailed. How silly and foolish he had been.
always happen to Harry, and not all of it was good. Maybe Uncle Algie was right. He should approach Harry about maybe
preparing against this. Who knows, maybe
some of the Gryffindor pride would come shining through. And maybe, just maybe, he could be the friend
that Harry needed, rather than the detractor he was sure he didn’t.
hummed thoughtfully to himself as he continued to water his plants, mulling it
over in his mind.