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The chapter that made us fall in love with… Neville Longbottom

At the Battle of Hogwarts, Neville delivered one of the greatest punch-in-the-air moments of the series.

Lord Voldemort is killed by his own rebounding spell in a battle against Harry in the great hall from the Deathly Hallows.
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While Harry was ‘the Boy Who Lived’, Neville could have been called ‘the boy who kept losing his toad’. Nervous, clumsy and seemingly hopeless at many things, Neville struggled to find his strength. But we knew the Sorting Hat placed him in Gryffindor for a reason…

‘The Flaw in the Plan’

‘You show spirit, and bravery, and you come of noble stock. You will make a very valuable Death Eater. We need your kind, Neville Longbottom.’
‘I’ll join you when hell freezes over,’ said Neville. ‘Dumbledore’s Army!’
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

So how did the boy who could hardly stand a cauldron the right way up find the courage to stand up to Voldemort?

From his first days at Hogwarts, Neville was a target for bullies and mean teachers (we’re looking at you, Snape!). He seemed to be a liability in the classroom, not to mention those perilous situations he and his friends kept finding themselves in. In spite of this, Neville’s unwavering loyalty meant he never shied away from danger.

‘We were all in the DA together,’ said Neville quietly. ‘It was all supposed to be about fighting You-Know-Who, wasn’t it? And this is the first chance we’ve had to do something real – or was that all just a game or something?’
‘No – of course it wasn’t –’ said Harry impatiently.
‘Then we should come too,’ said Neville simply. ‘We want to help.’
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

Neville’s mettle was well and truly tested in clashes at the Department of Mysteries and the Astronomy Tower. But it was at the Battle of Hogwarts when his real moment arrived…

While Harry, Ron and Hermione were hunting Horcruxes in Deathly Hallows, Neville led the rebellion at Hogwarts. After rallying the troops, a war-torn Neville threw himself into combat armed with Mandrakes (he knew his Herbology!) and accepted an important task from Harry – ‘kill the snake’.

It looked like the battle was lost. Neville stood alone and unarmed against Lord Voldemort himself. As punishment for his defiance he was forced into wearing the Sorting Hat, which Voldemort set ablaze. But Neville broke free, pulling forth the sword of Godric Gryffindor…

With a single stroke, Neville sliced off the great snake’s head, which spun high into the air, gleaming in the light flooding from the Entrance Hall, and Voldemort’s mouth was open in a scream of fury that nobody could hear.
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

Why it matters

Neville’s destruction of the final Horcrux saved the day, but what is really fascinating is the journey that brought him there.

He passed a round-faced boy who was saying, ‘Gran, I’ve lost my toad again.’
‘Oh, Neville,’ he heard the old woman sigh.
Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone

Between his botched potions and runaway toad Trevor, we always felt a bit sorry for Neville. We didn’t know much about him except that he came from a proud wizarding family and his grandmother Augusta raised him to uphold that honour. However, Neville’s shortcomings masked a tragedy that, for many years, he kept to himself.

‘– poor devils,’ growled Moody. ‘Better dead than what happened to them…’
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

When Neville was a baby, his parents Frank and Alice Longbottom were tortured to insanity with the Cruciatus Curse. Though he dutifully visited them in hospital, the couple appeared to be husks of their former selves, handing Neville empty sweet wrappers. We see this play out in the heartbreaking chapter ‘Christmas on the Closed Ward’.

‘Neville, put that wrapper in the bin, she must have given you enough of them to paper your bedroom by now.’
But as they left, Harry was sure he saw Neville slip the sweet wrapper into his pocket.
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

To see a loved one lost in this manner is not something many can relate to. We might ask why Neville didn’t talk to his friends but, like holding on to a seemingly worthless sweet wrapper, it’s complicated.

‘A true Gryffindor’

In nobody was this improvement more pronounced than in Neville. The news of his parents’ attackers’ escape had wrought a strange and even slightly alarming change in him.
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

How did the nervous lad with the love of plants grow up to face the Dark Lord? Simple – he never gave up.

Neville didn’t seek sympathy or wallow in despair. Instead he took his pain and channelled it into his training. Spurred by news of the Death Eaters’ escape, he strove to avenge his parents and prevent more innocents from suffering their dreadful fate. The Sorting Hat was right – deep down, Neville Longbottom had the heart of a lion.

Neville’s story is an inspiration to us all. It doesn’t matter how many cauldrons you’ve melted; with hard work and courage, you can still be a hero.

Pottermore looks back at the moments that made our favourite characters so memorable. Read about the chapter that made us fall in love with... Ginny Weasley.

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