The Sugar Quill
Author: sunnycouger  Story: Unbreakable  Chapter: Default
The distribution of this story is for personal use only. Any other form of distribution is prohibited without the consent of the author.

Body Unbreakable

Author: Sunnycouger

Rating: PG-13

Summary: Neville reflects on a cruel and heartbreaking attack at Hogwarts using the Imperius Curse on the students. How can he come to terms with what he did and what he lost that day when all he wants to do is die? And can Harry save his friend from the guilt that threatens to consume him before it's too late? A Neville/Lavender fic.

Authors Notes: This was a hard fic to write because I adore Neville and hated torturing him like this but blame everyone at Ditch The Logical for encouraging me and Fez in particular for giving me the idea in the first place. The evilness comes from them and not me, I promise ;) The title comes from a song by Andreas Johnson of the same name which I recommend you all listen to and I really hope you enjoy and please let me know what you think. There will be companion pieces to this - a Seamus/Parvati one and a Ron/Hermione one so in case you guys are wondering what happened with them you'll find out in their respective parts.

Also, thanks to Fez and Zsenya for beta reading this - they are the reason it's in such good shape.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

It was dark. He used to hate the dark - had done since he was four. It always made him lonely and reminded him that no one was there and no matter how much he could scream no one would know about it if it was dark enough. Bad things could happen in the dark, people could come in from it, dressed in darkness and ruin everything. That was why every scary story as a child was set in a dark forest, or in a thunderstorm - it was terrifying if you considered what the people who lived in a certain type of darkness could do: to families, to children, to parents... Bad things could happen and no one would know the difference until the sun came up.

But that was before. Now, now he loved the dark for all those reasons. He could be alone and no one would know, he could remember and no one would pity his treacherous soul, he could plan and no one would notice. He could let the darkness block out the whole world.

He could pretend, when everyone was asleep, that the world had stopped and life didn't go on.

Even though he knew it did.

Neville Longbottom's blue eyes looked out stonily towards the house in the darkness. His wand was clasped tightly in one hand and he had his arms wrapped around his knees, his eyes never leaving their target. Tonight it would be all over. He would make them pay; he would make it up to her. He would be free of this hell on earth. This life that apparently would go on, and on, and on, and on, and on...

He couldn't bear it. So tonight he would fix it - he would make up for his weakness and he would kill them or die trying. Either way he would be free - free to burn in hell for the mistakes he made. For the crime he committed in their name.

For what he had done to her.

He would burn and he would deserve it. He just hoped that it would be as painful as he deserved - painful enough to drive him mad. Maybe then he would be able to forget. Pain could make you do that, make you forget things like that. The important things in life. The important people. That's what happened to his parents and if there was any justice he would endure the same fate.

He shook his head - no. That wouldn't be justice. Justice would be for him to remember what he'd done forever.  To relive it every time he closed his eyes. To hear it every time his heart beat. To feel it every time he took a breath. That would be hell. And that's what he was living through, so maybe this was his punishment.

His punishment for being weak. For being pathetic and weak. For being a murderer...

Maybe his punishment was to live.

He leaned his head forward against his knees, his gaze leaving the house he would be entering in a few hours. He had always prided himself on being a good person. A kind person. Now? He hated himself.

More than he hated them.

She had loved him and he'd never really understood why.  Their relationship had confused everyone else but it hadn't mattered to them - he had never been as happy as he had been then.

He had loved her, he would have died for her.

And now it was over with only memories to haunt him. Memories of her, memories of them, memories of being able to laugh and smile. Memories of living...

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

"Neville! I want to go! Come on, the others are already there and you know Seamus and Dean will have begun stuffing their faces if we're much later which will make Parvati and Hannah cranky..."

Neville walked out the dorm with his cloak and looked at Lavender Brown nervously. "You know how weird this is going to be? I mean if Malfoy sees the two of us he'll..."

"You say this every time..." Lavender looked at him and shook her head with a groan. "Malfoy won't open his mouth, he hasn't been in Hogsmeade for the past three outings anyway. Well, not anywhere that any of us have seen him. He's probably of practising his Dark Arts or something. Please?" she gave him her best pleading expression as she leaned in closer and put on a whiny voice. "I promise it'll be fun, besides, if I can't go out with my boyfriend then what am I going to do?"

Neville looked down at her and felt himself blush. It was still strange hearing her call him her boyfriend.

Lavender reached over and nudged his chin up as she gave him a smile and leant in close and kissed him gently, causing him to close his eyes at the sensation of her lips on his before she stepped back and giving him a grin. "You know, one of these days you are going to have to take the initiative and kiss me first."

"I was never very good at...working on my own initiative," he said, holding onto her shoulders and bending his head down to kiss her again.

"Oh get a bloody room you two, we knew we'd starve if we had to wait on the pair of you finding your own way down to Hogsmeade. Get your skates on people, poor Hannah is stuck out in the corridor on her lonesome while we're in here with you two."

Neville jumped quickly as Lavender let out a small squeak and they both turned around to see the amused faces of Dean Thomas, Seamus Finnigan and Parvati Patil looking at them. Neville fastened his cloak as he felt his face flush while Lavender grabbed her wand and shoved it in her robe pocket. "I resent what you are implying, Seamus Finnigan. Neville and I were just...letting you guys work up an appetite."

Seamus began to laugh, draped his arm over Parvati's shoulders and leant down to her ear . "You think we should have worked up an appetite like that?"

Parvati began to giggle as Seamus kissed the side of her neck before Dean nudged his best friend and nodded his head towards Neville with a grin.

They winked at each other and walked over to either side of Neville. "You know, Dean - this man is the boyfriend of the girl who gave me a hard time about Parvati...ain't that right, Parvati?"

Parvati groaned and walked over and grabbed Seamus by the hand and dragged him away from Neville. "Ignore him, Neville, hunger turns him into a common Slytherin lout."

"Oh that hurts..." Seamus said as he clasped his heart in feigned pain.

"Oh it will hurt if you don't leave Neville alone..."

Dean clapped Neville on the shoulder with a knowing wink and followed Seamus and Parvati out the door. Lavender glared at Seamus, as he continued to laugh his way out the door. Neville reached for her hand. "You ready?"

She spun and looked at him with a smile. "Always."

He nodded his head as she took his hand and leant back so that she was touching him. He felt a wave of warmth wash over him as he smiled happily. This must be as good as it got - friends and a girl he adored. For six years he had always been slightly on the outside but now he had everything he had wanted so badly all that time. And he doubted he could be happier.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

He shuddered as he looked straight ahead, forcing the memories out of his head - he had to concentrate. Normally he wouldn't even consider what he was planning to do. He didn't really believe in the 'eye for an eye' philosophy that the Death Eaters held so dear - he liked to think he believed in justice. Let them rot in Azkaban reliving their crimes instead of giving them a quick death and making criminals out of innocent people, but that wasn't an option now. He had realised months ago that was a naive dream.

People like them didn't deserve to live. And even the former kind-hearted Neville Longbottom could see that now. Besides, he wasn't an innocent person anymore.

That was what they had taken from him, the mistake they had made.

Lavender had said she had loved that about him: his morals and the fact that he was kind. He smiled slightly. She had told him after they had been dating for about six months that she didn't understand what he saw in her. He had laughed and said that it should be the other way around - how could a person like her be with someone like him? She had taken his hand and smiled. "Because when we're together I feel like I could say I wanted to fly and rather than laugh at me you would help me fly. Because when we're together I don't care what anyone else thinks - I only care what you think. Because you're the best example of a person I could ever wish to meet and one of these days you'll realise how great you really are and know how much better you could do."

How wrong she'd been. If only she'd known what kind of a person he really was. If only he'd known what kind of a person he was. They say you can only tell the measure of a man when his back is to the wall and he has to face his demons. His back had been against the wall and proved what kind of a man he really was...and it sickened him.

He closed his eyes, although he could still see the house in front of him in his mind. It haunted him - every brick, every window where they were sitting planning which life they would ruin next. He could see it all without opening his eyes - his eyes that were once so warm and full of life that were now cold - showing no sign of the soul they were supposed to be the window to. Everyone had noticed it, even Dumbledore had spoken to him about it.

"Dead and empty, even the pain isn't showing any more, Neville. You have to let yourself grieve...you won't heal until you let yourself feel the pain."

Dead and empty - it had made so much sense to Neville when he had heard it. Of course his eyes would be dead and empty - his soul had died months ago so, of course, it couldn't be reflected in his eyes anymore.

His soul had died when she had fallenon that floor, screaming in pain and tears blinding her before being silenced forever.

Silenced forever by him. Neville Longbottom - murderer. He didn't deserve a soul.

He clasped his wand tighter as he felt a stab where his heart used to beat. He would be strong. He would not fail now that he was as close. He would make them pay - he didn't deserve to feel guilty, or pain. He had no right to indulge in self pity.

They had tried to tell him it wasn't his fault. The same way that they had told Lisa Turpin that it wasn't her fault about Callum O'Donaghue and that it wasn't Daniel Moon's fault about what happened to Kirsty Johnson or Steven Hamilton's fault about Mareshca Achmed...

According to them there were seven blameless people who had committed murder. That didn't make any sense to him. They were to blame - he was to blame for what he did. It was his fault and no words could change that.

Apparently, it was rather amusing for them in the house he was staring at - ironic was a word he had heard a lot. The bastards who were now in Azkaban waiting for trial had said they had thought it would be 'funny and fitting' for couples to kill each other that way. Hurt more people that way, they found it funny. Neville had never been able to see the funny side.

The people who had died that day, all in their seventh year at Hogwarts, were all Divination students covering all four of the houses - with even Slytherin unable to escape unscathed. Only eight of the year's Divination students survived - eight out of fifteen students. The eight that survived were saved on a combination of pure luck and timing as the teachers all realised what was happening and scrambled around all over the grounds trying to stop the inevitable in most cases. Some, like Seamus Finnigan had a strong will as he was able to struggle and warn Parvati Patil beforehand so she could defend herself. Seamus had been stronger than Neville was and as a result Parvati was alive and they were still together.

Neville had been weak and Lavender had paid the price for that weakness.

Like always...weak stupid and pathetic Neville. Well, tonight he wouldn't be any of that. Tonight they would see what he was. He was a Gryffindor and he was strong. He was going to make them pay.

The moments would still flash in front of his eyes like it had happened minutes before and he could analyse it in detail now. The point that she hated him. The point her heart broke. The point that she begged him to stop. The point that he laughed at her.

The point she had said she loved him.

The point he had killed her.

The point he was allowed to react to what he had done. The point he realised what kind of a person he really was.

He banged his head repeatedly against his knees and clenched his eyes tightly as he covered his head with his hands and begged the memories to stop until he could avenge her. He hated them and they would pay. They would pay.

"Neville?"

He looked up and saw Harry Potter, the Boy Who Lived standing behind him. He liked Harry - he was a good friend. A good person. He didn't deserve to be associated with Neville. He deserved better than to waste his time on a murderer. "Leave me alone, please."

Harry shook his head as he sat down beside Neville. "We've done that for months now, Neville. I'm not doing it anymore. Especially not tonight."

"Go away, Harry."

Harry looked out at the house and sighed. "What are you going to do? Walk right up, chap the door and stupefy three Death Eaters? It doesn't work that way, Neville."

Neville turned and looked at Harry seriously. "I know that. I'm not going to stun them. They deserve to die."

"So you're going to kill them? By yourself? You're going to kill them? You're not a murderer, Neville - you must know that this won't work. You aren't like them."

"You seem to forget that I am a murderer." He looked at Harry sadly. "I am a murderer. I am what they made me...I am exactly like them."

"Neville," Harry began sadly, "I have no idea how to make you see how wrong you are."

"Then don't even try and just leave me alone."

"It wasn't your fault, Neville. No one blames you. No one has ever blamed you. It wasn't your fault."

Neville looked at Harry briefly before turning back to the house and clenching his wand tighter. It was his fault. No one else could be blamed...only him. It was he who had done it. He had that had been weak and he had enjoyed the feeling of that weakness. It was he who had done it.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

He had never felt as blissful in his life, the world had seemed to fall away as he began walking towards the Astronomy Tower. He knew he had something important to do but for the life of him he couldn't remember what it was. Unconsciously he reached down and took out his wand and held it. Now what was it he had to do? He bit his lip as he walked purposefully up the stairs noticing Seamus Finnigan and Hermione Granger walking out the Gryffindor common room with their own wands out. None of them made eye contact with the others as they walked quickly in different directions. He felt a wave of euphoria wash over him as he continued his journey to the Astronomy Tower. There was something he had to do and it was important. He just couldn't remember what the hell it was.

"Neville? Since when did we take to patrolling the hallways with our wands drawn?"

Neville looked up and saw the face of Remus Lupin, an assistant to Dumbledore and former Defence Against the Dark Arts professor. He looked down and saw his wand out and shook his head. He had no idea why it was out. "Sorry," he began as he put the wand in his pocket, but didn't remove his hand from it. "I was just going to the Astronomy Tower..."

Remus looked at him curiously. "Everything okay, Neville? You don't look yourself...are you feeling okay?"

Neville looked at the man in front of him and knew he had to get away from him. He had to be in the Astronomy Tower. "I'm fine. I'm... just...in a hurry..."

Professor Lupin eyed him for a second before nodding his head reluctantly. "Okay, you better go then but do me a favour all right? After you are finished with whatever you have to do come and see me. It doesn't matter what time it is okay?"

Neville nodded his head as he began walking away.

"Neville?"

Neville span around at the sound of Lupin's voice. "Yes, Sir?"

"You've drawn your wand again."

Neville looked down and saw his wand out and blinked. Why had he done that? He shook his head apologetically and put the wand back in his pocket. "Sorry, forgot..."

Lupin eyed him suspiciously. "Thirty minutes, Neville, then I want you in my office. No excuses. Tell whoever you are meeting you will come back later."

"Okay, thanks," Neville nodded absently as he walked away quickly. He was just off the stairway when he reached into his pocket and took the wand out again. He didn't have a lot of time. He had to get to the Astronomy Tower.

He began walking up the next flight of stairs when he heard a pained scream come from one of the floors below him, begging for help. He knew he should have stopped and gone to get help but he didn't even pause as a person began sobbing loudly. He wanted to but he couldn't. He didn't have time for that.

He finally got to the Tower and opened the door. He stepped through and looked around to see Lavender sitting on the floor looking at the sky. He felt a wave of recognition wash over him - that was why he was here. He had arranged to meet Lavender...

"Neville? There you are...what's up? I have to confess that this is a bit earlier than usual for us to meet up here." She let out a small giggle as she stood up and kissed his cheek. "Not that I mind of course."

He didn't respond as she took a few steps back and turned around to where she was sitting. There was something he had to do...

He lifted his wand and looked at the girl in front of him. He really did love her. He felt himself smile as he began to lower his wand. Then everything seemed to go dull again as the feeling of complete pleasure washed over him making him feel detached from his body. It was a strange feeling, but one that he liked.

"So, what was so important that you had to see me as early for?" he heard her ask as if she was talking from under water. "You won't believe what Madam Trelawney is getting us to do, I can't wait to tell you about it. We could all have jobs already! Can you believe that? It's not even the end of January and we all have jobs if we want them! In the Ministry!! Of course no one is really supposed to know yet but, well I can tell you. And I'm pretty sure Parvati is telling Seamus. Isn't that great?"

He looked at her and nodded his head dully. There was something wrong with him but it was so nice...maybe Lupin was right when he thought he was sick. Of course he had never felt this content when he was sick before so it couldn't have been that.

"Neville? Are you all right? You haven't said a word yet..." she had walked over and was now standing in front of him. He looked at her but felt strangely detached from what was happening.

"You're starting to scare me, Neville! What's wrong?" Lavender's voice raised as she looked at him, eyes wide with panic.

Neville tilted his head as he reached out to gently caress her cheek. He really did have something important to do. She closed her eyes as he touched her skin, she really was beautiful. He was a lucky man.

He felt his mind cloud over even more as he removed his hand from her face. He moved his hand out to the side briefly before bringing it back to her face quickly with a force strong enough to knock her off her feet as the slap connected with her pale skin. He looked down at her in shock, not registering what had happened. What was she doing on the floor?

She spun around as she clasped a hand to her face. Tears in her eyes as a trail of blood came from her nose. "Ne...Neville? What...what..."

Before she could finish he had raised his wand to point it directly at her. "Crucio!"

Her body began to convulse as she let out an agonising scream. Neville looked on at her through the haziness. Something was wrong with Lavender but he couldn't see what was happening. He had to fight to see and as he fought against the rush of bliss that overwhelmed him he became acutely aware of what was happening. He was hurting her? He tried to lower his wand but couldn't, something was telling him he had to keep it up.

*"Stop it! Stop it! Stop it!"* he pleaded inwardly.

"Neville...stop, please...please!" Lavender gasped as her muscles twitched in agony.

He felt his body walk over to her and look at her with a laugh as it whispered. "Crucio!"

*"No!!"* he screamed desperately but no sound would come out. Nothing would come out, his body wasn't listening to him anymore.

He felt himself scream, only it wasn't him, it was him in a box somewhere. Trapped and caged. The feeling of nothingness came to him and he welcomed it, anything to not listen to what was happening. It couldn't be real. It couldn't be real...

"This...isn't you, Neville," she gasped as the tears streamed down her face still clutching the cheek he had slapped so mercilessly. She raised her eyes to look at him. "I love...you...pl..please...fight this..."

He stopped and felt himself lower the wand. A look of utter relief washed over her ashen face as she looked at him. He wanted to go to her and comfort her but...he couldn't. He had something important to do but he couldn't remember. He thought for a second as Lavender struggled to a kneeling position before nodding his head. Yes, that was it...that was what he had to do.

He lifted his wand and looked at her. "Avada Kedavra!"

He felt a surge of power he never knew he had flow from him out his wand, blinding him with the green light. In a second it was gone and he felt the detached feeling flood out of him leaving him standing alone. He looked down on the ground and felt his breath catch in his throat as his wand fell from his hand with a clatter. He had...

He took a step forward and dropped to his knees as he reached out and picked up her heavy wrist. He wasn't that powerful he wasn't...

No pulse. He dropped her wrist and it fell like a dead weight on the floor. What...what had he done? He had...he reached over and looked at her face...the tears still moist, the cruel bruising along her cheek, the trail of blood from where she had bitten through her lip.

He had done it. To her. She had begged him to stop and he had...he felt his stomach constrict until he wanted to throw up but his throat was clenched so tightly he could barely breath as he backed away from her desperately until he reached the wall behind him. He had used the Cruciatus ...twice.

The Cruciatus Curse!

He wanted to scream. He wanted to cry. He wanted to be able to breath but the pain in his chest was killing him. He had...done that to her. He had slapped her. He had killed her. He had *tortured* her. He had done what Crouch and the Death Eaters had done to his parents - only it was worse. It was so much worse... she had trusted him. She had loved him. He had tortured her, he had made her beg him to stop and he had done it again. Her body had convulsed, she had begged and he had done it again! He had hurt her so badly she had been sick, she had bit through her own lip, she hadn't been able to scream because of the pain. He had laughed. Then when her body was weak from the pain...she had said she loved him! And he...he...

He pulled his knees up to his chin and wrapped his arms around them as he lay his head against his legs and began rocking back and forth. It had to be a nightmare. It couldn't be real. It couldn't be! "Murderer, murderer, murderer, murderer, murderer, murderer..."

He heard a noise behind him but didn't turn around as he continued looking over at Lavender's limp form and open blue eyes as he rocked. "Murderer..."

"Oh Lord, we're too late..." he heard a man's voice from somewhere but couldn't focus on it as his eyes fixed on hers.

"Lavender..." another voice said in shock as the figure ran over to the fallen girl and grasped her wrist vainly. "She's...gone, Remus," the woman let out a deep breath as she wiped her eyes. "I hope the others have found the bastard!"

Neville didn't move his eyes from Lavender. Any minute now he would wake up and it would be a dream. He couldn't be a murderer, a torturer...he wasn't like that. He wasn't like them. He would wake up soon...

"Neville..." he turned his head slightly to see the hazel eyes of Professor Lupin looking at him sadly. "Neville, we have to get you to the hospital wing..."

Neville shook his head as he turned away from him. He couldn't go to the hospital wing...he was going to wake up in a minute.

"Neville...come on."

"I...the Crucio," Neville began quietly as the person beside Lavender looked over at him and he recognised her as Professor Sinistra, "I...it isn't...I'm not that powerful..."

Lupin moved over to block Neville's view of Lavender and shook his head. "It wasn't your fault, Neville. Come on, we have to get you to the hospital wing..."

"I'm not that powerful...I'm not. It's not real. I'm not that powerful..."

Lupin reached over and took Neville by the shoulders to stop him rocking and shook his head sadly. "Neville, we need you to come with us okay? Lavender...Lavender..." he took a deep breath as he looked at Professor Sinistra who had elevated Lavender's body and was walking towards the door with her. "Lavender is gone, but we have to know if anyone else is still in danger. We need your help. Help us, Neville..."

Neville looked up at his former professor and nodded his head dully. It wasn't real but he had to do something to get out of this nightmare.

He began to stand as he felt his knees buckle only to be helped by the elder man who caught him before he could drop to the floor. Neville looked at him helplessly. "What happened?"

"You...your body isn't able to handle the power it used. It's weakened..."

Neville looked at him blankly. "What power?"

Remus took a deep breath as he looked at Neville and a flash of devastation washed over his face. "The power it took to use the curses..."

Neville nodded his head, his eyes wide and his voice slightly higher pitched but no other outward sign of emotion. "Oh right..." he stumbled over and picked up his wand before turning back to Remus . "When can I wake up?"

Remus closed his eyes and brought his hand up to his eyes for a second as he took a deep breath before walking over to Neville and putting an arm around his shoulders paternally as he guided him to the door slowly as he supported him. "Come on, Neville...we'll get you through this. I promise you we'll get them for doing this to you all..."

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

They had promised he would get through it. Dumbledore, Lupin, Sprout, Sinistra, McGonagall and even Snape. They had all said that they would get over it. But there were some things that a person didn't deserve to get over. Things like murder and torture. A person deserved to suffer for that especially if they had done it to someone who trusted them completely.

Harry put his hand on Neville's shoulder, which caused him to snap out of his thoughts. Neville wished he could feel the warmth that it should have given him, but he felt nothing except pained that he had dragged another innocent person into this. "I am not leaving you alone, Neville. If you want me to let you kill yourself you are going to have to make me leave, and I promise you it won't be easy."

Neville shrugged the hand from his shoulder as he stood up. "I have to go. Go back to the school, Harry. You...you shouldn't have come here."

Harry stood and walked quickly until he was in front of Neville. "No."

"Leave me, please!"

"Make me!" Harry shook his head and folded his arms determinedly. "It's not your fault and I am not letting you kill yourself because of them! So you better be prepared to move me if you want by me."

Neville lifted his wand and pointed it at Harry who didn't flinch. He had to be able to do this. "Harry..."

"Neville, if you want past me you are going to have to knock me out because I swear if you leave me standing I am stopping you, supposing I have to do it one handed and without a wand, you are not doing this."

Neville turned around and looked at the sky. Why wouldn't they let him make it up to her. "You don't understand! No one understands that I have to do this! I have to make them pay."

"I understand how you feel! But this way...it's suicide, Neville. Lavender wouldn't want you to kill yourself."

Neville turned and looked at Harry with a bitter smile. "Lavender's not here. She was killed," he took a deep breath as he continued. "She would *want* her murderer to die."

Harry took a step over to Neville and shook his head. "You were not her murderer! The Lestranges were the murderers and we caught them. They're going to Azkaban..."

Neville looked at Harry and shook his head - he didn't understand. He couldn't understand what he was going through. "If Hermione had killed Ron instead of just torturing him you both would want to do the same as I am doing...they deserve to die!"

"I know they do, but you don't..." he said softly. "You don't deserve to die."

Neville clenched his eyes closed. He couldn't think straight. He had to do this and Harry was confusing him. "I deserve to be punished!"

"You are punishing yourself more than anyone deserves to be punished! They may as well have killed you that day as well...everyone they took control of and everyone who was hurt was changed that day. You are not alone in this, I promise you we all know what you're going through. You were under the Imperious Curse, you weren't to blame. No one can fight it."

"You can," Neville said as he took a deep breath and felt his breathing quickened slightly. "You can fight it, and Seamus...Seamus fought it, and and...and Morag McDougald, she fought it. They were strong."

Harry looked at him and shook his head. "They didn't fight it, they were just able to give them a warning. Seamus did attack Parvati, he nearly killed her but she defended herself because he told her something felt wrong. Morag did the same and Chris was able to get away without being injured because he stunned her first. It wasn't because they were any stronger than you."

Neville shook his head. "They were, I was weak and pathetic. And she died because of it. And I didn't care at the time! I sat there enjoying the feeling I got! I was weak and I am to blame!"

With that, Neville pushed past Harry and continued towards the house, only to be blocked off by Harry again.

"You are not going in there!" Harry began passionately. "Lupin and Dumbledore will be here soon and I swear I'm not letting them take back your dead body!"

"Go and get them then!" Neville screamed angrily. He didn't have time for this, he had to make them pay!

"You go in there and I'll walk in right after you, unarmed. You won't just be killing yourself then, you will be killing me," Harry said as he took his wand out his pocket and threw it on the ground. "Go on then, if you want to die that badly. Go kill yourself. I'm not going to stop you, but I will be going with you."

Neville clenched his eyes shut tightly as he bit his lip hard. "Please, Harry - just go, leave."

"No," Harry said gently as he put his hand on Neville's arm. "No."

"I tortured her! Twice! I laughed at her, I slapped her and I killed her," he began sadly. "I need to make it up to her."

"Being dead won't make it up to her..."

Neville looked down as he shook his head. "They need to pay...you...don't understand..."

"I understand more than you know," Harry said quietly. "I know about revenge...it won't fix anything."

"It will fix this..." Neville whispered as he grasped his wand tightly, needing something to hold onto. It would fix this. It had to fix this.

"Nothing can fix this," Harry said gently but forcefully. "But it will get better if you let people help you."

"You...don't know anything...about this..."

"I know about guilt, Neville, I know how it makes you feel," Harry shook his head and sighed as he took a few steps back and looked down at his feet. "I watched Cedric die, I made him collect the Triwizard cup with me. If I hadn't done that he would be alive. He would still be alive...doesn't your logic mean I killed him? Maybe I deserve to die for that?"

Neville shook his head as he looked at Harry. "But...but that was in fourth year...you...you didn't do anything wrong..."

Harry looked up at Neville, his green eyes still pained like he was reliving a painful memory. "I made him take the cup. If I hadn't done that he would be alive. That makes me responsible."

"No," Neville said forcefully. "You didn't know what would happen."

"Neither did you."

Neville shook his head quickly. "You didn't point the wand at him..."

"You weren't in control."

"If...if it had been you, you would have been able to fight it! I...I..." he shook his head desperately as his heart began to pound. He couldn't think about this. "I wasn't strong enough to fight it."

"Neville, it has nothing to do with strength."

Neville shook his head as he began walking towards the house. He couldn't listen to this. He was just trying to stop him. Harry knew as well as everyone else did what Neville was.

"Neville!" Harry called out as he ran up to him. "I'm not letting you do this!"

Neville ignored him and continued walking, her screams echoing in his ears.

"Neville! I said stop!" Harry grabbed his arm roughly and pulled him back so hard it caused Neville to lose his balance and he fell over onto his wand. He heard the loud crack and looked down. It was broken...he couldn't do anything with a broken wand. He couldn't kill them without a wand...

"You...you broke it," his voice was tiny as he looked at Harry. "I need it."

Harry looked at Neville sadly. "I'm sorry I...didn't mean..."

"I need it. I can't do it with...without it. I promised her..."

Harry dropped to his knees beside Neville. "She'd understand, come back with me, Neville...we'll...we'll fix your wand."

Neville looked at the broken pieces and felt his steely resolve weaken as the bitter realisation of his failure hit him again. He had failed her again. "I...I have to go in..."

Harry reached out and picked a piece of the wand up. "We...we could go back to the school tonight and...and all of us could come back tomorrow and get them? You don't have to do it alone..."

Neville shook his head as he looked at the ground. "It has to be tonight..."

Harry closed his eyes in realisation. "Neville...please, come back with me."

Neville shook his head as he looked at the stupid wand that had ruined everything. He couldn't go back. Nothing had changed accept the fact that he had failed again. A failure. A murderous failure who couldn't do anything. Some Gryffindor...

His chest began to constrict as he tried to force the broken wand to spark to no avail. "I need it tonight..."

Harry looked crest-fallen as he looked at Neville's face. "I didn't mean..."

"I need it to make it up to her," Neville said quietly as he looked at Harry. "Help me, please."

Harry shook his head slowly. "I can't help you die, Neville."

Neville felt his lower lip tremble slightly. "I *deserve* to die."

"No, no you don't," Harry said quietly but firmly as he took Neville's hand. "It wasn't your fault. You are not to blame. The only people who deserve to die are the people who did this, and we will get them I swear to you. But not like this, not tonight. Don't give them the satisfaction of killing you. They don't deserve it."

Neville felt an unbearable pain in his stomach and his chest as he struggled to take a breath. "It was...it was my fault..."

Harry looked at Neville and took a deep breath. "No, it wasn't. And you have to learn to believe that."

Neville felt his eyes fill with all the unshed tears since it had happened as he shook his head. He couldn't cry. He didn't deserve to cry. "I need to make it...up..to..to her."

"Make it up to her by not letting them beat you. She wouldn't...she wouldn't want you to die for this, for them...she loved you too much for that. Don't honour her birthday by dying on it. She loved you too much for that, Neville - that's not what she would have wanted."

As Harry spoke the words Neville felt like someone had taken a sledgehammer to his chest as her last words played through his head - I love you, please fight this. He hadn't fought hard enough to save her and she had died.

"I love...you...pl..please...fight this..."

He looked up at Harry and felt the tears that were welled in his eyes suddenly fall as every thought, and word, and feeling, and action of the past five months whirled through his head. Every defence he had created crumbled at once and a gut-wrenching sob escaped as he bent double over his broken wand and clasped it tightly and he clenched his hands into fists to try and stop the pain that every breath was causing. Harry immediately came beside him and wrapped his arm protectively around Neville as the heartbroken boy did what he had been unable to do since that day in the Astronomy Tower when he realised that some nightmares you couldn't wake up from.

He cried. He cried for her, he cried for them. He cried for the death of the man he was and he cried because he hated the man that was left. Harry let Neville clasp onto his robes desperately as every emotion he had ever felt left him...

"It's okay, Neville, we'll get them for you, I promise you..." Harry whispered as he brought his free hand to his own eyes and held it there for a second before wiping his eyes quickly and putting a resolved and determined expression on his face as he looked at the house in front of them bitterly. "We'll get them for you, but not today...today you get better, and then we'll get them together."

Neville nodded his head as he closed his eyes and prayed silently - prayed that she would forgive him. That he would make it up to her. That she knew how sorry he was and how he would never forgive himself no matter what.

No matter what he was different. He was a murderer, and no amount of words could change that. And he would live with that forever. He would live with that and the pain and memories of what he had done forever. And the sad thing was he knew he would deserve every second of it.

~ fini ~

//
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