“Seedlings Turn Overnight . . .” A Neville
missing moment, by Kelleypen
(title borrowed from “Sunrise, Sunset”
from Fiddler on the Roof)
Neville gathered up his trunk and his Mimbulus
mimbletonia; gingerly pulled his luggage
away from the disfigured, gasping remains of Malfoy, Crabbe, and Goyle; and followed Harry and Ron out of the Hogwarts
Express. He spotted his gran’s tall vulture hat bustling through the crowd as
she rushed to greet him. She reached him excitedly--well, excitedly for Gran.
“Oh my boy, I’m so glad to see you! Imagine
my astonishment to hear you were mixed up in that business at the Ministry!
What were you thinking? Well, never mind that now. I’ve a cab waiting.” All
this rushed out of her mouth as she enveloped him in a stiff hug.
“I’m glad to see you too, Gran. Could we
wait just a minute?” he asked, as she ushered him forward, “ I want to watch
Surprised, Gran stopped
and followed Neville’s eyes to the crowd of Weasleys and assorted wizards and
witches who were speaking to Harry’s Muggle family. They watched as Harry’s
uncle turned an angry shade of violet, then chalky white after Mad Eye Moody
removed his bowler hat.
“I hope this means Harry will have a better
summer this year,” Neville said softly.
They walked towards the cab. “Well, yes,
only Heaven knows how that child deserves it. I’m glad you’re his friend,
Neville. Standing by him like that is just the thing your father would have
done.” Neville felt the beginnings of a smile falter into resigned dejection as
Gran continued, “We do need to discuss your recklessness, though, Neville.
While I appreciate the loyalty and bravery you showed, you don’t have the
skills or talent to face those horrors. There is no point in wasting your life
foolishly, boy. Now, here’s our cab.”
Neville straightened his shoulders a bit as
he took a long breath. “Gran, Harry needed me. I was useful in there. May I
please wait to tell you about it later? I’m not up to it right now.”
Neville escorted Gran to the taxi, holding
the door for her and carefully setting his plant on the seat next to her. He
stowed his trunk in the back before he climbed into the other side and sat
opposite her. She had just begun to give the magical cabby directions to the Longbottom Estate when Neville
interrupted with, “The Leaky Cauldron, please, Diagon Alley.”
Gran turned to him, astonished. “Nonsense!
“We can spend the night there, then go to
Ollivander’s in the morning to buy me a new wand. Then I want to visit Mum and
Dad before we go home.”
“What in the name of Heaven?” Gran gasped.
“You need to get home and rest up.
Your birthday is next month and you'll have
a wand then. You know perfectly well that you're not allowed to practice magic
outside of school."
"I want to see Mum and Dad," said
"We'll see them next weekend, as
scheduled. Be sensible, Neville."
Neville again turned to the cabdriver,
keeping his deep voice calm and soft, but firm, “Diagon Alley. The Leaky
Cauldron.” The taxi driver suppressed a grin and headed for Diagon Alley with
an erratic jolt of speed.
As the cab darted between Muggle traffic,
Neville turned to his grandmother. “If I learned one thing this year, it’s that
I need to be prepared at all times to use defensive magic to save myself, my
friends, and you, Gran. We’re in the middle of a war now. I’d only use the
wand defensively. I won’t go to Azkaban for saving your life. I need a wand
now.” Neville swallowed before continuing.
“And I have my own reasons for needing to see
my parents. And while it may not mean anything to them—and I don’t believe
that—it’s important to me.”
“Neville, I don’t know what’s got into
you. You’ve always been so respectful and obedient. Where is my good little
boy?” Gran shook her head, looking cross.
“I still love and respect you, Gran,”
Neville replied softly, taking her claw-like, blue-veined hand in his, “but
I’ve got to grow up too. I’ll legally be an adult wizard next year.”
Shaking her head woefully, Gran turned to
look out the window. The cab soon jerked to a stop. Gran handed the cabby his
fare while Neville unloaded his trunk and his plant.
Exasperation was still evident in Gran’s
sighing voice as they entered the Leaky Cauldron. “I don’t know why we’re doing
this. I have nothing for overnight save my handbag. I just don’t understand
what’s got into you.”
“I have an extra clean nightshirt in my
trunk that you can wear. You could Transfigure it into a flannel nightgown if
Gran rolled her eyes. Neville grinned
sheepishly. “Thanks for doing this for me.”
The following morning, as Neville and his
grandmother walked down Diagon Alley towards Ollivander's, Neville
suddenly…became aware that while the vulture on Gran’s hat still towered over
him, he stood fully six inches taller than Gran. He noticed how the depth of
the worried lines around her eyes and mouth and the anxious way she pinched her
lower lip both belied the fiery determination he’d always been cowered by in
her eyes. This new awareness came with a realization of how vulnerable she was,
and he took her arm gallantly. She smiled up at him, puzzled, but pleased.
Mr. Ollivander was delighted to welcome
them. “Neville Longbottom? I knew your father, Frank. Good man. Very
talented in Defence Against the Dark Arts. Tragic case. I sold him his wand.
And your mother—Alice Marjoribanks--brilliant girl—what a tragedy. Well, why
haven’t you been in here to see me before?”
“I’ve been using my father’s wand, sir.”
“Your father’s wand? No, no, no, that
wouldn’t have done for you at all. I can tell just by looking at you that you
take after the Marjoribanks—your maternal family. I’ll bet you have quite the
green thumb, don’t you?”
“Yes, sir,” Neville mumbled embarrassed.
“Really, Augusta, his father’s wand? He’s probably
struggled a bit more than most in his classes because of trying to use the
wrong wand. Tsk. Tsk.” Ollivander shook his head.
Neville tried not to laugh at the stunned
look on Gran’s face. There weren’t many people
prepared to tell his gran off; in fact Neville couldn’t remember a time when
anybody had. Then he remembered his own new-found courage.
“Gran did what she thought was best for me,
Gran gave Neville a grateful look, then
excused herself from the shop, saying she’d get some fresh air and then go look
at books while Neville chose his wand.
“As if the wand would allow itself to be
chosen! Humpff!” muttered Ollivander after Gran left, “The wand chooses the
wizard, of course!” He left the room, then
returned with a series of measuring tools, which automatically measured Neville
while Ollivander began going through shelves and boxes. “Knowing you take after
the Marjoribanks makes this so much simpler—you won’t want black walnut like
your father’s wand.”
“How did you remem--”
“Oh, I remember every wand I’ve ever made
and sold. Your father’s wand was black walnut with dragon heartstring core.
Fourteen inches. You, however . . . hmm, try this … Willow. Unicorn tail
core. Thirteen and a half inches.”
Neville waved the wand and felt prickles up
his arm. Push pins flew out of the wand tip. He sniggered.
Ollivander snatched to wand out of
Neville’s hand only to press another into it. “Maybe not. No, I think not. Try
this. Birch with Unicorn tail hair. Eleven inches, springy.”
Neville waved, and it tickled as feathers
and a bouncy ball fell out.
“Better, better, but no. Try this one.
Cherry wood. Unicorn tail core. Twelve inches. Nice and supple.”
Neville waved it and felt a warm vibration
as a cascade of blooming vines came out of the end.
“Very nice. Now this is your wand!
That will be seven Galleons! Would you like a wand polishing kit for five
Knuts to go with it? Gift box maybe?” Ollivander’s silver eyes stared at
Neville approvingly as Ollivander rubbed his hands together with a relish.
Neville shook his head no, thanked and paid
Mr. Ollivander, pocketed the wand, and went off to find Gran. He found her
looking in the window of Quality Quidditch Supplie
s and giving a lecture
to Angelina Johnson about the kind of broom
she flew on when she was on the Gryffindor Quidditch team in her day. Neville
sighed, marking this as just another way he’d disappointed her. He waited
another minute, then interrupted gently, “ Hello Angelina. Gran, I’m finished;
would you like to see my new wand?”
Angelina gave Neville a quick, relieved
smile and hurried away.
An hour and a half later, Gran and Neville
entered the long-term spell damage ward at St. Mungo’s.
“I don’t know why you brought that little
plant with you. It’s not like your parents even understand they’re your
parents, much less understand why you must have show and tell with them.”
“It’s a cutting from my large Mimbulus
mimbletonia back at the inn. And it’s important to me, Gran.
That’s all.” Neville heard Gran take a deep breath and sigh down her long nose;
he could imagine her shaking her head as clearly as if he was watching.
“Very well, but I still think it’s all a
lot of silly nonsense.”
Neville and Gran entered the room they’d
entered so many times before. Lockhart called out, “More of my adoring fans!
I have signed photos for you!” and began to approach them, but the
Healer-in-training waylaid him and took him out for a walk to the solarium.
“Son, Alice,” Gran began. “We’re here a
few days early. This big boy of yours couldn’t wait to see you and show you
his new plant.” Her smile seemed warm enough, but her tone was patronizing.
“Dad, Mum, it’s me, Neville.” He placed the
plant on the bedstead and picked up a brush. Gran told Frank about the
unseasonable weather while Neville brushed Alice’s long, wispy, silver hair and
pulled it into a ponytail.
“Gran, would you mind giving me a few
minutes alone with my parents?”
Gran opened her mouth to protest, but
stopped, looking at Neville with a strange expression on her face. For a
moment Neville thought she might fall; her face was pale. But then she nodded
and turned to leave, saying, “Well, I fancy a cup of tea, anyway.”
Neville sat down in a chair between his
parents. His mother was absently twisting her new hairstyle in her fingers
while his father was staring past him towards the door.
Thoughts raced through Neville's mind. For
a moment, his courage left him. Maybe I'll just think for a while. But
somehow, thinking wasn't enough. He wanted to talk. He cleared his
throat and began to tell his parents about his year at Hogwarts, about
Dumbledore's Army, about everything. As he spoke, he gained confidence,
and after a few minutes, he was talking in a normal tone. The more he revealed,
the lighter he felt. His parents both turned to watch him. Whether they
understood or not, Neville could not tell, but at least they gave the
impression of a captive audience.
“At first, when I joined the DA, I wasn’t
very good, but I practiced, I studied, I became better. Harry’s a great
teacher.” He paused. “Mum, Dad, I fought HER. I fought Bellatrix Lestrange.
She was horrible: sick, twisted, deranged, evil. She even hit me with the
Cruciatus curse. Not for hours and hours like you suffered, but I KNOW. I
know.” Neville paused again, and slowly breathed out, then took a slow, deep
breath before continuing. “Harry needed me. I stood by his side after all his, no our, other friends had fallen. I’m part of
this war. I’m not doing it just for you two. It’s for everybody. I don’t want
anyone else to go through what you two have, or die like Harry’s parents and
godfather did, or grow up alone, or lonely because of these Death Eaters. So I
helped. And I know I’ll be called to do much, much more before this is
over—even if it means giving up everything, like you did. Don’t cry, Mum. I
love you.” She could hear Neville pull a tissue from the box and hand it to
“See this plant? It’s a Mimbulus
mimbletonia. I’ve been doing research all year with this. Well, with its
mother. This is a cutting for the Healers here to work with. Professor Sprout
is helping me. I can’t promise anything yet; it’s too soon, but I’m hopeful.
It’s showing properties that may restore memory damage and stabilize brain wave
patterns. Someday, maybe this plant will let us be a real family . . . or at
least real friends. I love you, Mum, Dad . . .” Neville said, sniffling. He
reached for a tissue, but his mother intercepted his hand and placed a
Drooble's Best Blowing Gum wrapper into his palm instead. Neville laughed and
Gran stepped out from behind the curtained
room divider. “I owe you an apology, Neville,” she said huskily, her own eyes
clouded with tears.
Neville jumped back startled, pulling out
his wand. “I-I-I didn’t hear you come in,” he stuttered, lowering his wand,
wondering how long she had been in the room.
“I came in a few minutes ago. When I heard
what you were saying to your parents, I didn’t want to interrupt. I’m glad I
listened. I’m sorry for treating you like you’re still a boy when you’ve
become a fine wizard and a strong young man.” Gran slipped her arm around
Neville’s waist. “I’m proud of you, and I’m proud to be your grandmother.”
Neville’s anger evaporated like dew in the
sun at her words. Overcome with emotion, but determined not to let his
grandmother see him cry, he wrapped both arms around her and enveloped her in a
hug, narrowly missing a dangerous encounter with the vulture. “Thank you. I
love you, Gran.”