We didn’t see an awful lot of Augusta Longbottom in the Harry Potter books, but when we did, we didn’t forget her in a hurry.
After her son, Frank, and his wife Alice were tortured to insanity by Death Eaters, Augusta seemed to have raised her grandson Neville by herself. We do hear about a ‘granddad’ of Neville’s once; the first person he saw die, and the reason why Neville can see Thestrals. But, apart from that, it certainly sounds like Augusta’s strength carried the Longbottoms through a terrible time.
We hear talk of Neville’s grandmother before we meet her in the flesh, after Neville dressed his Professor Snape Boggart in Augusta’s clothes: a long green dress topped off with a magnificent, stuffed vulture hat. Harry didn’t actually meet Augusta until Order of the Phoenix, during an awkward moment in St Mungo’s where Neville was visiting his parents. Augusta, however, took the whole thing in her stride and proudly introduced herself to Harry and his friends with grace and dignity.
‘What’s this?’ said Mrs Longbottom sharply. ‘Haven’t you told your friends about your parents, Neville?’
Neville took a deep breath, looked up at the ceiling and shook his head. Harry could not remember ever feeling sorrier for anyone, but he could not think of any way of helping Neville out of the situation.
‘Well, it’s nothing to be ashamed of!’ said Mrs Longbottom angrily. ‘You should be proud, Neville, proud! They didn’t give their health and their sanity so their only son would be ashamed of them, you know!’
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
A formidable grandmother
Unlike Augusta, Neville grew up timid and lacking in confidence. His Gran’s no-nonsense approach did seem like quite a lot to handle. Nonetheless, we can tell that Augusta was also incredibly loving and caring, if a little exasperated by Neville’s scatterbrained nature at times. This can be seen thanks to the various bits of owl post Neville received from her while at Hogwarts, which ranged from a Remembrall to help him remember things to a Howler to reaffirm her strict parental style when Neville lost all of the Gryffindor passwords.
Like many things in life, Neville seemed a little afraid of Augusta. His Boggart may have turned into Professor Snape, but Neville pointed out he didn’t want it to turn into his Gran, either. And, admittedly, Augusta could be pretty strict, such as refusing to take Neville to the Quidditch World Cup, or randomly yelling at him outside a shop in Diagon Alley. Always comparing Neville to his father never helped, either.
But through it all, we know Augusta meant well, and probably used her assertiveness to mask her own insecurities. We spotted this theory in action when Neville mentioned his Gran didn’t want him to study Charms to N.E.W.T. level, calling it a ‘soft option’. Professor McGonagall retorted that just because Augusta failed her own Charms O.W.L., the subject was not necessarily worthless…
Augusta’s stiff upper lip may have been why she kept comparing Neville to Frank, too. After all, she may have been strong, but she must have grieved for her son.
An unexpected force
Augusta could be stubborn, but also defiant at the right moments. When Harry was in desperate need of people to believe him after Lord Voldemort’s return, Neville announced that his Gran had cancelled her Daily Prophet subscription because she believed him.
As Voldemort got more powerful, so did Neville – thanks to Harry’s DA lessons – and Augusta learned to become proud of her grandson. Neville particularly came into his own during his final year, fighting off the dastardly Carrows and igniting an inner-Hogwarts rebellion. When the Death Eaters went after Neville’s Gran, Augusta promptly put the attacker in hospital.
‘…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.’
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
The last time we saw Augusta, we saw just how proud she had become of her son in the face of Lord Voldemort.
‘I was the last to come through,’ said Mrs Longbottom. ‘I sealed it, I think it unwise to leave it open now Aberforth has left his pub. Have you seen my grandson?’
‘He’s fighting,’ said Harry.
‘Naturally,’ said the old lady proudly. ‘Excuse me, I must go and assist him.’
With surprising speed, she trotted off towards the stone steps.
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
That’s our Augusta. Constantly defying expectations, and learning to stop having so many expectations about her very brave grandson.