Today, we will talk about the ‘other boy who lived’. It is, after all, his 37th birthday. Happy Birthday, Mr. Neville Longbottom, one of the most understated protagonists of the Potter series. The similarities in the lives of Neville, and the ‘Chosen One’, are hard to ignore. Both were born at the end of July, both were born to parents who fought and perished for the good cause, and both ended up fighting for the cause themselves. One led the life of a teenage ‘hero’ of the wizarding world, while the other grew stronger in the shadows. Was he really just the simple-minded, loyal friend to the hero, or a real weapon in the fight against darkness? Let’s explore
The similarities between Harry and Neville are quite conspicuous. It is, therefore, naive to think that JKR created the one person who could have lived out Harry’s destiny, as an afterthought. Therefore, the gross under-representation of Neville Longbottom in the Potter movies is one of my top peeves against the films. As Dumbledore once clarified, Neville fit in to the prophecy that tied Harry and Voldemort, quite snugly. Voldemort chose Harry, and thus differentiated the two boys. But, despite Voldemort’s choice, the two kept sharing multiple common life themes. Both boys had a traumatizing childhood with extended family. Both were incredibly brave, in their own ways. Both handled the wrath of Snape, and the vile of Malfoy, at the school. But, the most important aspect that the two shared was that both proved to be incredible leaders, when the situation so demanded. Nobody would have expected Neville, the forgetful, clumsy boy, to lead the charge when Harry went hunting for Horcruxes. But, he rose to the occasion, like a boss.
What was Dumbledore Hiding?
Now, let’s turn our attention to the shrewdest wizard in Potterverse. There was only one man who had heard the prophecy, to the end. Headmaster Albus Dumbledore. He knew immediately there were two boys who fit the bill, who could become Voldemort’s chosen one. The Dark Lord chose Harry basis his blood status, that was not pure, just like Voldemort himself. Voldemort saw himself in Lily’s little boy, and decided he was the greater threat. But, that fateful night onwards, Dumbledore raised the boy “like a pig for slaughter”. In many ways, he actively diverted attention towards Harry, by bringing himself closer to the orphan child.
In the meanwhile, the other boy who lived, also came to school, and lived an understated life. For some weird reason, he was always forgetting things (remember his Remembrall), which some conspiracy theorists have pointed out raises doubts of a spell. Was Dumbledore really using Harry as a smokescreen to protect Neville Longbottom, who he knew would be pivotal in the fight against Voldemort?
True General of DA
Even if we completely reject the possibility above, Neville remains one of the most important characters in JKR’s legendary series. He silently nudges the direction in which the story would turn, without creating so much as a ripple around him. Even as the bumbling first year student, he showed a courage so pure, an intent so noble, and a leadership so inherent, that it was impossible to ignore him as a sidekick. He is a novelists dream, the underdog that takes his sweet time to rise to absolute glory.
Let us, for a moment, try to imagine what might have happened at Hogwarts, when the Golden Trio left to hunt horcruxes. There would have been chaos, fear, uncertainty – after all, the good people of Hogwarts had no idea where their prophesied savior was stationed, in the darkest times of their lives. But, there was our Chosen Other! He did not just lead Dumbledore’s Army as a substitute to Harry, he kept Hope alive. He was the only one to do that again, standing up fearlessly to the Dark Lord, when they presumed their savior dead. He remembered to ‘turn the light on’!
His heroic efforts in the Battle of Hogwarts, later, and the ultimate slaying of Nagini, establish that Harry would not have won against Voldemort, without Mr. Longbottom.
Professor Longbottom, Maybe Headmaster someday?
Neville also went on to become Auror, along with Harry. He, however, chose to leave the job, to come back and join Hogwarts as a Professor. Yes, yes, we can see him there JKR! Also, we are sure that, with his penchant for justice, bravery, wisdom, patience, and resilience, not to mention his (slowly discovered) excellence, he would make an exceptional Head Master someday. Cheers Neville Longbottom! You are our chosen one.
Note: All pictures are stills from Harry Potter movies. Blank Slate Chronicles does not own the photos
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