Title: The Children of EveBy: Tirya King Email: Category: General Rating: PG Spoilers: None Feedback: Of course! Archive: As long as you tell me where it's going, you may put it where you wish! Time Frame: After Neville graduates from school. Around 20 years old.
Summary: A glimpse into the inner workings of a character with great potential. Potential to be a great hero… or a great villain.
Disclaimer: JK Rowling owns the books. "The Children of Eve" is a beautiful song sung by a Master of Song: Linda Eder. Suing me is rather pointless since all you'll get is some lint and a piece of mint gum.
Author Notes: Alright, no one get mad at me for writing this. But I see a lot of little clues that hint at a more… sinister future for Neville. Everything is paralleled from the first generation to the next, except for one thing. But I believe the parallel just hasn't been shown yet. Try to read this with an open mind.
The Children of Eve
"Hurry up now, Neville. Only a short visit today."
"I'll be waiting downstairs in the main hall. Nurse Yolan is just down the hall if you need anything."
"Alright, Gran. I won't take long."
The doorway to his parents' room was as familiar as his own at home or at school. He could barely remember a time where his parents were not within this room and it had been ages since he remembered the sound of his father's laughter or his mother's soft singing.
The steady hum of life support reassured him, as it always did, that he had not missed anything since his last arrival. For years they had been slipping away from the world as their bodies gradually gave up. This was now the 4th year that they lay so still and silent, locked inside their coma.
As the 20-year-old sat down in his customary chair between the two cots, he couldn't help wondering which was worse: his parents' madness or their silence. Each frightened him and each proclaimed loudly that he was parentless but for his Gran. Their bodies were still here, still breathing, still existing. But what made his parents real and alive were long torn from them. Still, though he knew they could not respond, just being with them reassured him of hope and let him relax in the turbulent world he lived in.
"I came just like I said," he greeted them with false cheerfulness. They lay silent upon their cots as they always did. He did not really expect an answer anyway, so he continued. "Gran is driving me crazy, she insists that I join the Academy for Herbological Studies, and to leave my 'silly crusade' to the others. I really want to go to the Academy. Herbology is really the only thing I can do without blowing things up." He smiled faintly before returning to his sullen demeanor. "I would love to go, they even accepted me. But I can't leave the others behind to fight this war. I would feel like I was abandoning them."
He stood up and began to pace the room in his growing agitation. The years had preserved the shy stocky boy from Hogwarts. But the puppy fat was substantially removed by a sudden growth spurt in 6th year. His face was more handsome, but more sullen as well. He found it increasingly hard to maintain his optimistic façade any longer. Pretending he was a normal child in school was hard enough. Trying to act like a normal adult in the middle of a war was damn near impossible. "What do I think I'm doing?!" he exclaimed running a hand through his sandy hair. "I'm no hero! I'm just Neville, just Neville. Squib extraordinaire and magnificent coward. I'm not brave and wonderful Harry Potter."
He paused mid-stride and stared out the window for a moment, shocked at what he had just said. Was he so base as to compare himself to his friend? Did he think himself so worthless to put Harry upon a pedestal like the rest of the world delighted in doing? Harry hated it when others did it to him, abhorred the fame his scar earned him. What would he say if he knew one of his closest friends thought such things about him?
"It's not his fault," he shook his head, arguing with his previous statement, trying to convince himself he didn't hate him, "You-Know-Who wants to kill him. I don't want to be him and I never will. I'm not a target. I should be thankful. I should be helping them, not trying to weasel my way out to play with plants."
He turned back to his parents as though they held all the answers. Normally, just explaining whatever worries plagued him to his parents was enough to clear his mind to find a solution. He wished it would come to him now. "What are we doing in this war, dad? What are any of us doing? More people are dying every day and it's just a matter of time before it's someone I'm close to. What if it's Gran next? Or one of my classmates? I don't want anyone else to die. But what can I do about it? I'm not brave like you, dad. I'm not Auror material. I was lucky to get my job as a junior hit-wizard."
He walked over to his chair and slumped down in it. He looked over to his mother, his beautiful mother sleeping peacefully next to him. Did she know when facing the Cruciatus what she was leaving for her son? What kind of a world he would have to live in? Did she realize that he was not man enough for the burden?
"I almost didn't come today, mum," he whispered, tears welling his crystal eyes. "I didn't want to come. I didn't want to see you because I thought you were a burden." He laughed bitterly. "Imagine that, mum, your own son was too busy to come and see you. Even when I walked in that door, I only thought of an obligation to see you. And next week, I don't know if I can make it here. I don't know if I'll want to." This confession was nearly too much for him, but he did not weep. He learned from a very young age that tears did not help. Tears could not bring back his parents and tears could not make him feel any less of a brute now.
"That's not all," he continued, "The other day, during a battle, we were losing badly. It was one of You-Know-Who's attempts to get to Harry and he led the attack himself. I nearly left Harry to him. I thought of deserting the cause, my friends, just to save my own hide." He looked down at the immaculate tiled floor. "Sometimes I hate Harry, you know. I hate him for what is happening, for every single needless death. But it's not his fault. I know it's not. But sometimes, I just forget…"
"This damned war! Why does it have to be like this?! We're losing it and nothing Fudge or Dumbledore tells me will convince me otherwise." His large eyes raised suddenly and all traces of tears left him as he thought of something. He smirked softly before letting the movement die on his face. "Dad, what did you do when you hated to fight the good fight? Sometimes, I just want to leave them all, join the Dark Lord for what it's worth. But no, I can't do it. I've seen what it does to people like me."
He remembered what had occurred only a month ago. He had been fighting to protect a make-shift hospital along with Seamus and Ron. It was a hard battle, but eventually, they managed to keep the Death Eaters at bay long enough for the patients to be evacuated. He would never forget the sight of one of the enemy that day. That one was one of the leaders of the group, ruthless and angry. He held a great resemblance to Neville, so much so that Seamus remarked on the likeness. That was what first captured his attention. It wasn't that they looked like relatives; this man had balding blonde hair and baby blue eyes that must have once sparkled like lazuli. It was in the way he moved, his ineptitude with the wand, his near paranoia during battle, that reminded Neville of himself.
Neville asked Harry later that night about the Death Eater. For such an inept wizard, the leader must have had some sort of connection to The Boy Who Lived. All the higher ones did. A story was told to him that evening about a spineless traitor called Peter 'Wormtail' Pettigrew and how so much blood was on his hands either directly or indirectly. As the tale continued, Neville got chills up his spine. He had so much in common with Harry's old 'uncle', was he the only one to see it? Looking into those soulless sapphire eyes, was Neville looking into his own possible future? It was after that that he let go any thoughts of ever joining the Dark Lord. He would not do what that coward had done.
"The potential's still there," he whispered to his mother as he absently stroked her hair. "The potential's always there for me to be like that if I give in to my fears. But then, we all have the potential to turn out rotten, don't we?
"Mum, you should have seen Harry in the Department of Mysteries when one of the Death Eaters killed this guy Sirius a few years ago. I'd never seen Harry so… frightening. He honestly tried to torture and kill that Death Eater, it was like he wasn't even there and had died with Sirius. There was just this… angry shadow of a person where he used to be. Later, Ron told me that he and Sirius were almost like father and son and that that was the reason he flipped out." He smiled weakly, deep in his memories. "If the great Harry Potter has that scary murderous shadow of him deep inside, then I suppose it's alright to admit that I have that Wormtail deep inside me. We both just have to control it and keep it as far from the surface as we can."
He stopped stroking Alice's hair as a sudden thought occurred to him. "You should have seen him fight the other day. He fought like a Senior Auror. He has this insaneness about him sometimes. He thinks the whole world is his to protect and that our lives are his responsibility. No one really expects him to survive the war, you know. He's the sacrificial lamb and we all know it, we just don't bring it up to him. It's all so gloriously noble, it makes me sick."
Everyone either loved Harry or feared him just because of this prophecy. If things had been only slightly different, if Voldemort had come for him that night, then it would be him that everyone looked to for guidance. Proud, perfect Harry Potter would be the one in the back supporting Neville's noble crusade.
Deep inside, he knew he should not be jealous. Harry has had an awful life because of this prophecy as well as anyone close to him. Did Neville really wish he were the one with the power to end the war, with all the cost involved? Would he really prefer his parents died rather than be tortured?
Staring down at his parents, locked inside their coma, he did wish they had died instead. A quick easy death was sweet mercy compared to hours under the Cruciatus. He would rather they were dead instead of being forced to watch them waste away, not even knowing who they were. And he, the dutiful son who visits them month after month, year after year.
"See, mum?" he asked pained, "I do consider you an obligation. Your only son wishes you had died that night. And you know what else? There's talk of a traitor in our midst. No one was supposed to know about that hospital, only Ministry officials and Healers knew. But the Death Eaters came anyway. Someone had leaked information. It wouldn't be the first time. And you know what else, mum? That someone was me. They're saying the traitor is a cheap coward who would sell the location of a hospital to a band of murderers. But that's not it at all! I didn't! I told them where Harry was. All they want is Harry. And when they find him, he'll fulfill the prophecy and end the war. If Harry won't go out and do it himself, then he has to be pushed to do it. And besides, I did it to save Gran. They would have… oh, God…"
The images brought to mind were too awful to discuss to his mother. Weeks ago, when the Death Eaters first came calling with their black owls, he had sent them all away with no answer like a good little wizard. After all, no son of two Aurors and members of the Order would become traitor. No child of Frank Longbottom would betray his friends' trust like a coward.
But when they started sending body parts with the owls, when the heads of old witches no younger than Gran started coming, he had to give in. The message was clear. So he did what even the great Harry Potter couldn't do, he prevented those close to him from getting hurt because he refused to act.
"I'm not Wormtail, mum!" he cried to the comatose Alice. "You have to believe me! I'm not a warrior like Harry, but he won't do anything! He has to be pushed to fight! I'm not betraying him, I'm helping him! I'm bringing the fight to him! All my friends hate me and they don't even know it. They curse me every time the Death Eaters manage to find Harry when they shouldn't be able to. But I'm no traitor!"
He hated Pettigrew with every ounce of his being. This small slip of a man was the cause of all this destruction. The whole war and all this death could have been avoided. If only this one cowardly man had stood up. If only he'd been man enough to refuse the threats, this may never had happened. Harry and Neville would both have their families whole and intact. And no one would have to force the other to act.
"Neville?" Nurse Yolan asked, popping her head in the door. "Are you alright? I heard yelling."
He swung around as though being caught doing something horrible. "I'm fine, Nurse Yolan, really. I'm sorry for making so much noise. I… I often talk to my parents… you know, to see if they respond to it."
The lie was believed as the nurse's eyes softened. "Yes, of course, dear. If only all sons were as attentive as you. Will you be much longer?"
"No," he said looking back at his parents, who hadn't moved once. "I was just on my way out actually." He grabbed his coat and limped to the door, his old wound from the other day causing him pain. "Excuse me."
"Goodbye, Neville! I'll see you later, ok?" she said kindly.
He mumbled in acquiescence and made his way to meet his grandmother. The halls were unusually busy for this time of day. All the patients from the hospital that was supposed to be top secret had to be moved here despite the lack of room.
"Oh, Neville, are you done already?" came the voice of an old lady to his right. It was his Gran coming back from a visit to an old friend who had been hurt some time ago.
"Yes, Gran, I just needed to get a few things off my chest," he responded taking her arm like a gentleman.
"How are they?" It was a question born of habit, but he answered nonetheless.
"Fine. The doctors think the comas have stabilized somewhat."
"Then there is someone looking out for us," she sighed in relief. "What will you be doing later, dear?"
His eyes grew hard as he knew what he had to do. It was a horrid task to be left to him, but he couldn't stand to see the people suffering any longer. There need be no more children to go through what he did. He had the means. He had to protect.
"Same as always."
Don't cry… You had a bad dream, that's all
Don't cry… Now it's all gone
Don't cry… They're just shadows on the wall
Don't cry… They always move on
All the children of Eve sleeping somewhere tonight
Dream of days when the shadows are gone
All the children of Eve say a prayer every night
Praying there'll be no dragons at dawn
One child… Learning to take the fall
One child… Living in war
No child… Just shadows on the wall
One child… And millions more
Not all children of Eve sleep in peace every night
Not all nightmares are over at dawn
When the children of Eve become dragons and fight
Then the whole vicious cycle rolls on
But all that matters now
Is finding some way somehow
To leave this winter far behind
I'm scared of the shadows too
One day… I'll try and be there for you
Till there are no dragons in that sky
All the children of Eve are sleeping somewhere tonight
Dream of days when the shadows are gone
All the children of Eve say a prayer every night
Praying there'll be no dragons at dawn
So that's it. Short, but I hope I got my point across. Yes, I believe that Neville is the next Wormtail. But I also believe he believes it's for the right reasons. The similarities between the two characters are too great to ignore. They are both untalented. They both have a strong friendship with a Potter, be it James or Harry. Ron is the attention-seeking Sirius. Hermione is the smart Remus who doesn't seem to fit in. We need an untalented Peter, don't we? Review and tell me your views on it!