More than they could chew

Neville talks about student rebellions and the Death Eater that had the misfortune to take on his gran

Extract from Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

By J.K. Rowling

‘Neville, she’s all right, we’ve seen her –’

‘Yeah, I know, she managed to get a message to me.’

From his pocket he pulled a golden coin, and Harry recognised it as one of the fake Galleons that Dumbledore’s Army had used to send one another messages.

‘These have been great,’ said Neville, beaming at Hermione. ‘The Carrows never rumbled how we were communicating, it drove them mad. We used to sneak out at night and put graffiti on the walls: Dumbledore’s Army, Still Recruiting, stuff like that. Snape hated it.’

‘You used to?’ said Harry, who had noticed the past tense.

‘Well, it got more difficult as time went on,’ said Neville. ‘We lost Luna at Christmas and Ginny never came back after Easter, and the three of us were sort of the leaders. The Carrows seemed to know I was behind a lot of it, so they started coming down on me hard, and then Michael Corner went and got caught releasing a first-year they’d chained up, and they tortured him pretty badly. That scared people off.’

‘No kidding,’ muttered Ron, as the passage began to slope upwards.

‘Yeah, well, I couldn’t ask people to go through what Michael did, so we dropped those kinds of stunts. But we were still fighting, doing underground stuff, right up until a couple of weeks ago. That’s when they decided there was only one way to stop me, I suppose, and they went for Gran.’

‘They what?’ said Harry, Ron and Hermione together.

‘Yeah,’ said Neville, panting a little now, because the passage was climbing so steeply, ‘well, you can see their thinking. It had worked really well, kidnapping kids to force their relatives to behave, I s’pose it was only a matter of time before they did it the other way round. Thing was,’ he faced them, and Harry was aston- ished to see that he was grinning, ‘they bit off a bit more than they could chew with Gran. Little old witch living alone, they probably thought they didn’t need to send anyone particularly powerful. Anyway,’ Neville laughed, ‘Dawlish is still in St Mungo’s and Gran’s on the run. She sent me a letter,’ he clapped a hand to the breast pocket of his robes, ‘telling me she was proud of me, that I’m my parents’ son, and to keep it up.’

‘Cool,’ said Ron.

‘Yeah,’ said Neville happily. ‘Only thing was, once they realised they had no hold over me, they decided Hogwarts could do without me after all. I don’t know whether they were planning to kill me or send me to Azkaban, either way, I knew it was time to disappear.’

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

By J.K. Rowling