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22 February 2007 @ 10:05 pm
Fic: An Ordinary Man  
Title: An Ordinary Man
Rating: G, so very G
Word count: 1,927
Pairing: Neville/his gran. Err, make that Neville [comma] his gran. :D
Summary: Suddenly, a broken wand seems inconsequential compared to other things.
Warnings: Does Butterbeer count as alcohol consumption?
Author's notes: I always thought that we got cheated out of a CAPSLOCK!Neville moment. There are so many parallels to draw between Harry and Neville, and like Harry, Neville needed a cathartic moment to release all the resentment he'd been holding in. Thank you to sowritesauds for the beta! And oh yeah...happy birthday, shiiki!


Augusta Longbottom was not known for being affectionate.

Oh yes, Neville knew without a doubt that his gran loved him more than anything. Yet when he messed up—which was alarmingly often—he was sure her stern glare and vicious reprimand held something deeper than anger. Disappointment at having raised such a walking blunder. Contempt at his utter failure to live up to his parents' heroic sacrifice. And perhaps shame, which stung most of all.

Sometimes he wondered if his gran would even care about him as much if he weren't a product of the legendary Frank and Alice Longbottom. He knew she was waiting for some sign of extraordinary ability or talent, some characteristic that would mark him as special, someone worthy of the Longbottom name.

So it was with no small amount of anxiety that he stepped off the Hogwarts Express to greet his grandmother. Scanning the platform, he recognized her standing in her customary spot just beyond the platform's edge, in front of the barrier between platforms nine and ten.

Carrying Trevor in one hand and dragging his trunk with the other, he started to rehearse what he could possibly say to explain how he had destroyed the single most important relic left of his father's.

An accident? I was just practicing banishing spells outside when a great wind came and blew Dad's wand into the Whomping Willow. Nope, he'd just seem as hopeless as ever. Plus, he couldn't escape the nagging feeling that it'd been done before.

A duel? Well Gran, I was in the greenhouse when all of a sudden, a couple of Slytherin thugs came up to me and challenged me to a duel. I said yes, and they laughed and snapped my wand in half. He'd only come off as hopeless and a weakling.

The truth? You see, I followed Harry Potter—yes, that Harry Potter—I followed him on a suicide mission to save his fugitive godfather from You-Know-Who. Yeah, we broke into the Department of Mysteries in the Ministry, got attacked by a few dozen Death Eaters, and I spent most of the night bleeding and incoherent after getting kicked in the face by a Death Eater. Oh, and the kick that broke my nose also broke your son's wand. Sorry 'bout that. No, this was the worst explanation by far. What would she say when she learned that, for one brief and fleeting moment, her fool of a grandson had actually fancied himself a hero?

And it wasn't just her wrath that he feared. Facing her anger would mean admitting to himself that it was his fault Dad's wand had broken; it was his choice, his doing.

"Neville!" Her sharp voice broke into his thoughts.

"Hi, Gran," he said, nervously turning up one corner of his mouth.

She rested her hand on his shoulder and gave a curt nod, her customary greeting, then led him briskly out of King's Cross. They walked in silence with the occasional croak from Trevor punctuating their steps, and all the while he wondered how he would explain his blunders away. Finally, after a long, brisk hike, they stopped in front of The Leaky Cauldron. As far as Neville could see, it was empty save for Tom the barman wiping down the counter. Tom's face had brightened upon hearing the door open, but it sagged when he saw that it was only the two of them. Augusta was quite frugal, and Neville doubted that she'd ever spent as much as a Knut eating outside the home. He walked to the fireplace and waited expectantly for his gran to follow.

Yet she surprised both her grandson and the barman by pulling not Floo powder but Sickles from her purse and tossing them to Tom. Evidently, Tom was befuddled as well, for he failed to catch the money. Instead, he dropped the rag he had been holding and stared dumbly at the coins as they clattered on the bar.

"Two Butterbeers, Tom," she commanded as she set her handbag down. "Well?"

Neville blinked twice before he realized that she meant for him to take a seat too, and he obliged. They sat for a minute, sipping the Butterbeers that Tom had plunked onto the counter. The only audible sounds were the barely perceptible rush of the city outside, the gentle slurping his gran's lips made when she drank, and the clink of glass against wood.

"Is there something you'd care to explain to me, Neville?" asked his gran, breaking the prickly silence.

At first he was perplexed, but she reached into her handbag and retrieved half of his father's wand. He felt heat crawl up his skin and his ears throbbed with guilt as she removed the second piece from her purse. "Wh-where'd you get that?"

"The Ministry sent it to Ollivander, who owled it to me. They thought that you would want it back, seeing as how it's obviously got...sentimental value."

He gulped. "Listen, Gran, I didn't mean to break it—it, it just happened, and I'm really sorry. About Dad's wand, I mean." She merely nodded. "Aren't you going to—to shout at me?"

She frowned "What on Earth for?"

"For…messing up?"

She gave a light cough, and leaned forward. "I know about the Department of Mysteries. I know about how you helped Harry Potter rescue his godfather."

"You—you do?"

"I have heard enough to make certain deductions, but we both know that the Ministry’s accounts can be…lacking in many things. Truth among them."

Neville smiled faintly; she’d been referring to the letters he’d sent home while he was still able, letters that described life at Hogwarts and Harry’s fallout with the Ministry.

"I would like to hear what happened." She said this in a tone that offered no room for disobedience, and Neville gulped.

"Okay," he nodded solemnly. "Okay."

So he told her. He told her about how scared he had been, stepping into the dark. How the experience of an Unforgivable had been horrifically unbearable. How he had craved oblivion, insanity, death—anything to dull the razor-sharp ripping of his nerves. And most of all, how he had hated Bellatrix Lestrange as he met her cruel, laughing eyes, and how he'd yearned for her destruction even more than he'd wished for the end of his own pain.

He spoke for a whole hour without stopping, and when he reached the end, he gave a great heaving breath and shuddered with relief.

Gran gave no sign of having processed any bit of his account. He opened his mouth to speak, then thought better of it and waited.

A minute passed. She still had not said anything, and he was beginning to feel very self-conscious. He cast a cursory glance at her face as she blinked rapidly, and was alarmed to see tears clinging to her lower lashes.

"Gran?" Neville hesitantly reached for her hand, stopping just before their fingers touched.

She took a lace handkerchief out of her handbag and dabbed at her eyes. It was another minute before she broke the somewhat awkward silence that had transpired.

"It amazes me how much you are so very like your father."

Of all the things she could have said, he was expecting this the least. "Huh?" he blurted out, momentarily confused.

"He was a brave man, you know." She paused to blow her nose with a deafening honk, daintily placing the handkerchief onto the counter, where it made a wet squelchy noise. (Tom had been surreptitiously watching, and grimaced at this.)

Neville blinked, not understanding.

"Frank would have died protecting his family. Your mother was the same. They would be very proud of you, you know."

"But…but I broke his wand! I wasn’t brave at all…I even disarmed Harry when I meant to aim at the Death Eater attacking him! And I—"

He was cut off by a livid glare, as his gran clenched her teeth and stared him down. "Do you think that’s all that matters? Have I taught you nothing?" She straightened her back, and continued. "Frank and Alice gave up everything—they lost their sanity, for Merlin’s sake—for the good of the entire Wizarding world! Don’t trivialize your parents’ sacrifices by denying your own!"

"I’m not denying what I did!" he said back, nearly shouting with pent-up emotion. "It’s just," he went on, lowering his voice but not his intensity. "No matter what I do, I’ll never be as good as Mum and Dad. Not if I faced down a hundred Death Eaters, I wouldn’t be able to—to be them. Not for you, and not for anyone. I can’t…" His voice trailed off, and his chest ached with the release of so much he’d kept hidden.

"Is that what you think I want?" Gran’s tone unnerved and slightly indignant.

"Well,yeah…" he trailed off, staring at a small burn spot on the bar.

"Look at me," she said quietly, and he felt her eyes on him, prodding him, boring into his skull so that all his insecurities were open before her. Obediently, he looked up. "I never wanted you to be your parents, Neville. I don’t know where you got that idea."

"From you," he insisted. "You and all the rest of them, everyone that knew Mum and Dad, you’re always going on about how Mum was this and Dad did that, and then the subject turns to me and it’s 'Oh, Neville hasn’t got his father’s talent’ and 'Well, we can’t expect too much from him now, can we?’ and I’m sick of it, I’m so damn tired…"

"I don’t need you to replace them. I don’t need another Frank, or another Alice. And I certainly don’t want you to spend your entire life trying to become them."

"’M’not," he mumbled despondently. "But why can’t you just love me now, right now, for what I am. Not just—just because I’m here, or because I came from them, or because I need you to, or even because I’m hero for a day. " He inhaled sharply, then let out the breath in small, calming puffs.

"Listen," she said, teeth clenched in that all too familiar expression she wore when he just didn’t get it. "I’ve always been proud of you."

"Really?"

"I have." She pursed her lips, and went on. "I realize that I have never made that point clear, but you don’t have to endure an Unforgivable to make me proud." She looked at him intently. "I love you because you are my grandson, and you’d do best not to forget that. But I must say…I’ve never been happier than when I unfolded that issue of the Prophet. Do you know how pleased I was, reading about the 'heroic efforts of Neville Longbottom’?"

Neville blushed and smiled softly. "Thanks, Gran."

Regally, she stood up, and motioned for him to follow. As they headed for the fireplace, he asked timidly, "So does this mean I can take N.E.W.T. level Charms the year after next?

Augusta sniffed. "We’ll see, my dear. We’ll see."

---

"A hero is no braver than an ordinary man, but he is braver five minutes longer." – Ralph Waldo Emerson
 
 
Current Mood: pleasedpleased
Current Music: "Hero" - Mariah Carey (because I can;t think of any other)
 
 
( 14 comments — Leave a comment )
Spideyspidergirl30 on February 23rd, 2007 08:15 am (UTC)
"I love you because you are my grandson, and you’d do best not to forget that. But I must say…I’ve never been happier than when I unfolded that issue of the Prophet. Do you know how pleased I was, reading about the 'heroic efforts of Neville Longbottom’?"

Aww, that´s so adorable!!
Loved how you wrote Neville and this talk was really lovelly and very spot on too :)
The quote from Waldo Emerson is simply beautiful and powerful!
Thanks for sharing this!

*hugs*

i don't want to be a song. i want to be loved.: giddy micemsmoocow on February 23rd, 2007 08:24 am (UTC)
You thought it was spot on? That's one of the most flattering things anyone could say to me! I'm glad you thought my characterization fit!

And yes, I have a bit of a quote fetish--I am incapable of thinking of my own titles, so I shamelessly steal title ideas from writers far more brilliant than I. As soon as I saw this quote, I knew I had to use it. :)
shiiki: squeeshiiki on February 23rd, 2007 01:10 pm (UTC)
Well, I seriously need to tell you now that I absolutely love you.

This was perfectly, perfectly Neville - it's just the way he would think, the way he would act, react. And you do a damn good Augusta Longbottom as well! The way Tom the barman reacts to her, the little quirks she has, her straightforward way of speaking. That's exactly how I imagine Neville's Gran.

Now, back to Neville again - you have captured perfectly his self-effacingness and quiet bravery. You reinforced the fact that he was indeed the last man standing beside Harry. And how he feels that, despite that, he still won't be good enough. I'm so glad his Gran finally reassured him. And this really fits in with what he says in HBP, that she was actually proud of him.

Do you know how pleased I was, reading about the 'heroic efforts of Neville Longbottom’

I'm so pleased, reading that! I love that Neville got a mention in the Prophet.

He truly is a hero, and you show it well. Thank you!

*hugs*

And this amazing piece was written for me! Oh, the honour ... *blushes*
i don't want to be a song. i want to be loved.: mimbulusmsmoocow on February 23rd, 2007 02:47 pm (UTC)
Yay! I'm super glad you liked it! Thanks for being so patient!

Gran's a character, isn't she? It kind of irks me when she's portrayed as either a simpering old lady or a complete bitch. She's kind of hard, but she really cares about Neville, you know?

Oh, and I love you too. (mention #22)
melandry on February 23rd, 2007 03:48 pm (UTC)
Hm, why don't I have any Neville icons?

Anyway, I really liked this! It fit in perfectly as a missing moment, and you write Neville so well. There were a couple moments (like seeing as how it's obviously got) where Gran's dialogue sounded a bit too young or casual to me, but overall she's also great here - exactly as I'd expect her to be. Too often the adults in HP (above the Marauders' generation) get written as one-note caricatures rather than people, but you completely avoid that trap here. Good job!
i don't want to be a song. i want to be loved.: dear ljmsmoocow on February 23rd, 2007 08:56 pm (UTC)
Ha, your 103 icons have failed you! Although i think the Gryffindor Boys one might have done okay. :)

Thank you! I'm happy you like the way I write Neville. I find him easiest to write, though I hope I'll get to stop using his "woe is me" outlook soon, because I think I've beaten it to death already. I'm also relieved Gran came across as you'd expect her, since we really don't see a lot of her in the books.

And concrit = love. I'll definitely keep the dialogue in mind in the future, especially seeing as how I plan to bring her back someday. Thanks!
rose_starrrose_starr on February 24th, 2007 12:16 am (UTC)
Wow! That was wonderful!! I loved Neville telling his gran exactly what happened, what he was thinking, how he was feeling. It was a terrific insight into what makes Neville click! I soooooo loved it!!

Fabulous, m'dear!!! :)

**smooches**
i don't want to be a song. i want to be loved.msmoocow on February 24th, 2007 01:57 am (UTC)
:D

Thank you so much! I guess my Neville love has spread, and for that I am glad.
(Anonymous) on February 27th, 2007 12:12 am (UTC)
Awww, I cried ... almost :) I especially like the part where Augusta orders the butterbeer and everyone's giving her the "huh??" stare. It made me laugh.

I hate being a muggle.
--ollau
i don't want to be a song. i want to be loved.: sounds like a humdinger of a ficmsmoocow on February 27th, 2007 01:17 am (UTC)
<3

I love you. :) Thanks for commenting, dear.

And ehh, being a Muggle's not so bad. At least you have your pot to keep you company, right?

Note to anyone else reading this: I'm just kidding about the pot.
Wadewade_scott on April 25th, 2007 02:08 am (UTC)
*squishes Neville*

I think you'll like my little ficlet that I should be posting later this week.

Oh, and I'm super-obsessive with my email, too.
i don't want to be a song. i want to be loved.: waltz with nevillemsmoocow on April 25th, 2007 02:11 am (UTC)
I think this is the beginning of a bee-yoo-tiful friendship!
Wadewade_scott on April 25th, 2007 05:00 pm (UTC)
You know why Neville pwns at life? Cuz he went to the Ministry despite the fact that he was scared shitless. And he never left Harry's side. He had no idea who Sirius was. He had no reason to go. He just knew that Harry was going to protect someone from Voldemort and the DE's and damn it all, Neville was going, too. He takes his membership in Dumbledore's Army seriously.
inkvoicesinkvoices on February 21st, 2008 11:34 am (UTC)
This is exactly the Augusta Longbottom that is so no-nonsense, like when she turns up for the battle at the end of the final book :o)

And Neville is very much the 'everyman hero' isn't he? Even at the end he's using that courage of his - to ask his Gran if he can take a school subject she disapproves of - but since the poor lad grows up being thrown out of windows and with such lauded heroes as parents, no wonder he has self-worth complexes I guess.

I really enjoyed this, but expecially the explanations Neville practices in his head - I followed Harry Potter—yes, that Harry Potter *grins*
( 14 comments — Leave a comment )