A/N: This is probably my first fic in about 5 years. Let me know how I did J (Also: formatting problems fixed, I accidentally uploaded the wrong file the first time and a bunch of mistakes made it in. Sorry!)

I disclaim everything.

To Be Frank…

Neville Longbottom sighed as he watched the passing scenery begin to slow through the windows of the Hogwarts Express. The sound of the screeching train brakes made him wince – Though, he noticed, everyone seems happy enough. Ginny and Hermione were talking as they gathered their belongings and went to open the compartment door, while Ron hummed to himself as he did the same. Luna Lovegood, the very odd girl he had only met this year, looked detachedly calm and content, just as she always did.

Then there was Harry, who was exhibiting what Neville immediately recognized as feigned cheerfulness.

He probably doesn't want to be bothered, Neville thought, giving his crooning Mimbulus Mimbletonia one final stroke before grudgingly resigning himself to the fact that it was, indeed, time to go. Slowly, and with another quiet sigh, he got to his feet and followed the rest of his friends out the compartment door.

By the time he reached the door with his luggage, it was crowded with other students trying to do the same. Out of the corner of his eye, he saw his compartment-mates begin to move toward the exit.

"Bye…everyone…" he called, trailing off at the prospect that none of them heard him. They all have more important things to worry about, he thought. They're probably really anxious to – he was interrupted by what he initially thought was a tackle, but what he soon realized was a hug.

"You will be sincerely missed," said Luna Lovegood, his attacker, as she released him.

"Goodbye, Neville," Ginny declared, hugging him as well (though, thankfully, a bit less violently).

Hermione went next. "Write to us, alright?"

After Hermione was Ron, who gave him a handshake. "Bye, Neville."

"See you," Harry recited, giving a forced smile and turning away quickly.

Neville grinned and waved at his departing friends, and went back to trying to pull his luggage off the train with a newly lightened heart.

After reaching his belongings, which was much easier than anticipated due to the rapidly thinning crowd, he turned and joined the throngs of students heading toward the exit. Despite having been happy a moment before, the weight that had been sitting on his chest since the night at the Department of Mysteries returned as soon as he saw the stuffed vulture amid the crowd.

The atmosphere was anything but cheerful, he noted, as worried parents reunited with their children. With his heart sinking lower still, he deduced that the aura surrounding King's Cross most likely extended to cover the entire wizarding world. Voldemort was back. He had to accept that.

He also had to accept that he had made a promise to Dumbledore that, in lieu of having his Gran be notified by the school about his little 'adventure,' he would tell her himself. So, fighting the urge to step down from the train and try to blend in so that he would not be found, he waved and called out, "Gran! Over here!" Seeing the vulture turn around and move back toward the train, he dragged his trunk down the stairs and onto the foot of an unsuspecting passerby.

"I'm very sorry," he began, attempting to move the trunk. "It's a heavy trunk, and – "

"Neville! I'm so happy to – what did you do now?" Mrs. Longbottom remarked, her tone shifting immediately from relieved to annoyed.

"Hi Gran!" Neville replied as enthusiastically as he could, succeeding in moving the trunk from the foot of the unsuspecting man. "My trunk just fell on someone's foot, it's alright. I'm sorry, sir," he directed at the victim, who nodded and walked away. "Can we leave now?" he asked, turning toward his grandmother. "I want to get home." He pulled his luggage cart toward the station exit they normally used, but soon realized that he was the only one moving in the correct direction.

"Not just yet, Neville dear," Mrs. Longbottom called. "I was intending on going to Diagon Alley and eating dinner before we go home, as a treat to you for getting through your O.W.L.s unscathed." She smiled. "Plus, if there's anything you've broken over the course of the year, we can replace it."

Now it was Neville who remained behind while his grandmother marched ahead. I'm going to have to tell her soon, he thought fretfully, furiously debating with himself over whether or not to break his promise to Dumbledore and lie. It would, after all, be entirely plausible to tell her that he had accidentally stepped on his wand. The question was whether the truth would cause him more or less trouble.

"Neville? I thought you wanted to leave?" Mrs. Longbottom questioned sternly, looking perplexed at his odd behavior.

"I'm coming, sorry," Neville answered, shaking himself back to reality.

His grandmother looked at him approvingly as he hurried to catch up. "You've grown, you know," she stated as soon as the two had started walking. "You look just like your mother. I trust school went well, as I haven't gotten any owls telling me otherwise?"

"Yes, it, er, did," Neville replied, smiling nervously. Dumbledore wouldn't mind if he delayed things a little, would he?

"Good," she said, smiling back at him. Neville shrugged and gave a nonchalant sigh, hoping the conversation would end, dinner would be relatively silent, and that he would soon be left to the quiet and uninterrupted solitude of his bedroom. Despite his pleas to the powers beyond, he knew that none of his wishes would come true.

The voice of Mrs. Longbottom seemed to come out of nowhere, and it made Neville jump. "Where would you like to eat? The Leaky Cauldron, or that nice little quiet place near the end of the street, Café Christella?…Why are you jumping so much, dear? Calm down, it's just your grandmother."

"S-sorry, Gran," he answered, giving another nervous smile in hopes of rectifying the situation. From what his grandmother had said, he inferred that Café Christella was her place of choice for the evening, and he knew that obliging her would probably be the best course of action if he wanted to avoid any major upsets. "Café Christella sounds nice, and I've never been there."

"Alright, that's where we'll go then," she stated approvingly as she turned to face front again, continuing her usual authoritative stride forward. Glad to be out of the spotlight, Neville followed her suit, though slightly behind her and without her confidence.

The two walked to the nearby flat of one of Mrs. Longbottom's friends, where they were able to temporarily stow Neville's luggage and use the fireplace to get to Diagon Alley. To Neville's delight, the fumes did not make him choke, and he reached his destination with relative ease. Floo powder had never been his favorite way to travel.

"All set then?" his grandmother asked after he landed. Neville nodded in reply. "Let's go." As they walked out the door and started down the street, Mrs. Longbottom put a hand on Neville's shoulder. "I'm eager to hear about your experiences at school. How is Harry Potter? I'm very glad that the papers have admitted the truth, and that the Ministry is finally reacting. He must be relieved that people are starting to take action."

Neville nodded again, even though he knew very well that what she was saying was far from true.

"And what about Ron and Hermione? How are they?"

Unable to avoid speaking again, Neville summoned his voice. "They're good. Hermione helped me study for O.W.L.'s, and Ron started to do really well in Quidditch by the end."

"Good for him. You told me he had a bit of a rough start, from what I remember?"

Neville was relieved that his Grandmother had again taken over conversation, and gave another nod.

"I'm very glad to have you home," Mrs. Longbottom said tenderly, looking at him approvingly again. Neville wished she would stop doing that. "You're really becoming a man."

"Er…thanks," Neville said, knowing where the conversation was headed and, all the same, hoping for it to go somewhere else.

"I remember when your father was your age." Neville had no such luck. "It was during his fifth year that he met Alice, actually. They were inseparable friends, but didn't really start with anything romantic until after they graduated. Oh, the mischief they caused…." She trailed off as if getting lost in the past. "You're a relief, really," she continued, smiling at her grandchild. "I'm too old to put up with any wild antics. You'd drive my fragile nerves right over the edge."

Neville sincerely doubted it, but decided not to say so. From his experience, his grandmother could more than handle anything he could even think of inflicting upon her so-called "fragile nerves."

"Here we are, then," she said, pointing to the window of the restaurant as they approached. They opened the door and walked in. It was a nice, respectable establishment, tastefully decorated with an air of stern comfort. There was only one customer, eating a sandwich at a table in the back. He immediately saw why this was a place his grandmother approved of.

"Two, please," Neville said, taking charge for a brief moment in time. He could feel his grandmother's eyes upon him, but did not turn around.

"Right this way," the host said, walking to a small round table near the window. As they sat down, two menus appeared in front of them. Neville picked up his menu, but instead paid attention to a small fountain bubbling behind his grandmother's head.

After a minute of silence, his grandmother snapped her menu shut and questioned, "What are you ordering, Neville?"

"What?" Neville answered, jumping again. The look she shot at him made him aware that she was going to make him talk very soon, if not immediately.

"What's wrong? You've been incredibly quiet and nervous since you got off the train."

"N-nothing," Neville quickly replied. "I'm fine." He knew that she would never accept his answer.

"Alright," she responded slowly, a definite note of suspicion in her voice. "Something must be wrong. You are old enough to keep it from me if you choose, though I would advise telling me. I may be able to help."

"I'm fine, really," he insisted, hoping she would not ask again. To his great surprise, she did not.

"Whatever you say. Have you decided what to order?"

Neville started as he remembered where they were and his purpose in coming, and picked up the menu to make his selection just as the waiter appeared at their table.

After ordering, the two lapsed into a very uncomfortable silence.

"How do you think you did on your O.W.L.'s?" Mrs. Longbottom asked, seemingly attempting to put things at ease between the two of them.

"I did really well on Herbology, Care of Magical Creatures, and Defense Against the Dark Arts," Neville started, happy that there was something he could talk about without risking danger. "Charms went alright, I think, and so did Potions – yes, I'm surprised too." He smiled when he saw the look on his grandmother's face. "History of Magic was terrible. I couldn't remember any dates at all, and I don't know how I did on Astronomy…I'll have to wait for the marks to come in the mail."

"How were Transfiguration, and Divination? Rubbish that it is," she added under her breath.

"You know how Divination went, I'm sure, just a load of rubbish, like you said. I'm not taking it next year. Transfiguration was a bit of a disaster, but it could have been worse."

"Ancient Runes?"

"Hit or miss, I don't know which."

"Good, good. We can expect at least four A's then?"

"Well…I hope so," Neville answered, a bit uncomfortable. He was always failing to live up to expectations, and the thought of that immediately made him nervous again.

Luckily, the food arrived just then, and he had the excuse of a full mouth to keep him from talking.

However, after he ate no more than three bites of his potatoes, his grandmother asked,

"Do you need anything new for the summer, while we're here? Robes, quills or anything?"

Neville dropped his fork, which had been on its way to his mouth; he would have to tell her.

"I – I – I…" he stuttered, unable to get the words out of his mouth.

"Spit it out, dear," she ordered, taking a bite of her meal.

Neville mumbled something incoherent.

"You what? Speak up, and go slowly so I can understand you. These ears don't work as well as they once did."

Neville swallowed. "I need…I need a new wand." He gulped, and waited for the fireworks to begin.

"What on earth happened to your old one?" she asked, suddenly angry, putting her fork down.

"I…I…" Neville's mind was racing; it was the truth or a blatant lie… "I…stepped on it. It broke. It was an accident."

"You what!" his grandmother snapped, a mixed look of rage and exasperation on her face.

"I'm sorry – "

"I'm afraid that 'I'm sorry' won't remedy the fact that you broke your father's wand!" she interjected, slamming her fork onto the table and breathing heavily with rage. "When I gave that wand to you, I thought I sufficiently explained exactly what that meant! Your father gave his life so you could…"

She's really on a roll now, Neville thought miserably as he stared at his potatoes. Her voice got louder, as if she perceived that he was trying to tune her out. Suddenly, he felt an odd sense of resolve to tell the truth come over him. It's not as if it could be any worse, after all…he thought, taking a deep breath.

"…So irresponsible! I can't believe –"

"I didn't step on the wand," Neville quietly interrupted. His grandmother gave him a cold, calculating look.

"What happened, then?"

He took a deep breath. "It's a long story."

"I'll order coffee," she replied, summoning the waiter.

Neville knew then that it would be a long time before he reached his room.

"You'll never believe me, anyway."

"I would like to be given the opportunity to try."

Neville let out his breath.

"I'm your family, Neville. Please tell me the truth."

Neville began to speak, but did not look up. "Maybe we should wait until we get home, Gran."

"I demand to know now!"

So much for not forcing me to say anything. Neville sighed and quietly asked, "You know when everyone saw You-Know-Who at the Ministry, and it was in the papers and all?"

His grandmother nodded.

"I was…I was there, too." He waited for a reaction with his eyes still on the tablecloth, but none came.

When he finally looked up, his grandmother was giving him a bewildered look of mixed horror and disbelief. After a minute of silence, she finally spoke. "You were never one to lie, Neville, and frankly, I don't appreciate you starting now."

"I'm not lying, Gran…this is stupid. I knew you wouldn't believe me. Just forget about it." He knew that would never happen the second it popped out of his mouth, but the second of silence that followed made him optimistic.

"How in Merlin's name did you get there, and why were you there in the first place?" No such luck.

"Thestrals. And we were there because Harry needed us."

"You rode Thestrals to the Ministry of Magic in order to help Harry Potter fight You-Know-Who."

"Not exactly."

"What – exactly – happened then? I would very much like to know." Her tone was dangerously on the edge of an explosion.

"Me, and a bunch of others – "

"Who?"

"Ginny, Hermione, Ron, and Luna."

"Lovegood? Editor of the Quibbler?"

"Yes, that's her father."

"So you, and four other underage wizards, accompanied Harry Potter to the Ministry of Magic, on Thestrals, to fight You-Know-Who."

"Not to fight You-Know-Who. He just…showed up at the end. We were trying to rescue Harry's godfather…and there was a fight and my wand broke." Pausing here, Neville expected the lecturing to begin at full throttle, and quickly stuffed his mouth with food in hopes to avoid any further talking.

However, his grandmother only looked at him in disbelief.

"Who did you fight?"

"Fuhdefeedurs," Neville mumbled through his potatoes.

"Don't speak with your mouth full! Swallow this instant."

"The Death Eaters," Neville said, much more loudly than he had anticipated. Their waiter looked at them from over at his booth.

A look of horror and confusion washed over his grandmother's already fear and anger-filled face. "Death Eaters?"

"Yes. We fought them, to help Harry, because the whole thing was a trick to lure him there because they wanted some prophecy or other. And…alright…well…that's it." He gave himself another mouthful of potatoes.

"No," she stated, recovering herself, "that isn't it. I would appreciate the whole story."

For the first time in his grandmother's presence, Neville felt himself losing his temper. "Yes, it is."

"Tell me the truth, Neville." She was calmer now, but even in her calmness she was firm. Neville had had enough.

"That is the truth!" He realized he was close to shouting, and lowered his voice to a harsh whisper. "We fought Death Eaters, and Dumbledore came, You-Know-Who never got the prophecy, whatever that was about, and my wand was broken while we were fighting before he got there. That's it, that's the end. I don't want to talk about it. Isn't that enough?"

"Is what enough? You are telling me that you left school, rode thestrals, fought Death Eaters – DEATH EATERS – " the more she repeated the words, the more emotional she seemed to get, " – AND YOU EXPECT ME TO BE SATISFIED WITH A BARE BONES EXPLANATION?"

Neville stood up and slammed his fists into the table. "I SAID I DON'T WANT TO TALK ABOUT IT! I fought death eaters, I broke dad's wand, I saw someone die, my friends were all hurt, I was more frightened than I have ever been in my entire life, and I haven't been able to sleep without nightmares ever since! I don't bloody want to talk about it anymore!"

His grandmother gave him a funny look, and he suddenly realized just how loud he had been. He looked around and saw that the lone customer and the waiter were both staring at him, horrified. Blushing, and trying to control his heavy breathing, he sat back down at the table, suddenly ashamed of his behavior.

In a very quiet voice, he began, "I'm sorry, Gran, I didn't mean to – "

"Was she there?"

He felt a lump rise in his throat. He never wanted to think about it again. For his entire life, he had seen the damage she had done to the parents he had never known. He had seen the curse performed on spiders, read about the curse in books, seen her picture in the papers, heard the story a thousand times…but none of it was the same as being in her presence and being forced under control; being mocked; being forced to deal with the most painful thing he had ever felt in his entire life; experiencing the same pain that they did; maybe feeling the same way that they did…

"Neville?"

He continued to stare at the table. She could never know. She was, all things considered, his mother. She had cared for him his entire life, from the time he began to eat solid foods and onward…but she could never know this.

"She was, wasn't she?"

At this, he looked up and into her eyes. "Yes," he answered firmly. "She was there."

"Were you…are you alright?" Her eyes were full of concern, and at that he felt his anger waning into indifference.

"I'm here, aren't I?" His voice sounded dead even as he was saying the words.

The sadness in her eyes began to wash over her entire face.

"She did the curse on me," he said quietly, and with more calm than he ever thought he had the strength to use.

At this, her mouth widened and she went to speak, but Neville decided to stop her.

"It's alright, Gran, really. I'm fine. I'm upset about it, yes, but I'm fine."

She was reduced to silence once again, and Neville looked back down at the table.

"I couldn't even hurt her when I had the chance…there were just too many…" he mumbled, half hoping that she would not hear him.

His grandmother remained silent.

"I tried…I only just managed to escape because the Order of the Phoenix showed up…"

"Neville, you went against Death Eaters, you stopped You-Know-Who…I couldn't be more proud of you."

Neville kept his eyes where they were. He still did not want to look at his grandmother, because he was revolting against the fact that he was very close to crying in the middle of the café.

"I'm sorry I forced everything out of you," his grandmother continued, sniffling a bit. "I have trouble remembering that you are at a more respectable age now, and need to be treated that way."

"It's alright, Gran," Neville mumbled.

She dabbed her eyes with a handkerchief. "I was caught off guard…the school never wrote about anything, the Prophet never mentioned anything…this was all a complete surprise."

"I know, Gran."

"I'm so afraid sometimes, Neville. Frank and Alice were extremely powerful wizards…no one is safe from him, Neville, no one."

"Yes, Gran."

"I sometimes feel that…"

Neville began to tune out what his grandmother was saying, letting himself get momentarily lost in his own thoughts. He didn't know if she understood…how could she? She had never even seen Bellatrix Lestrange in person, let alone fought her…let alone had the Cruciatus Curse inflicted upon her. His grandmother, while an active supporter, had not been an active member of any form of resistance against Voldemort.

"…the 19th?"

"Sure, Gran."

"It's set then! I'll send invitations Tuesday. For now, let's go get your new wand." She stood up, left some money on the table, kissed Neville on the forehead, and walked briskly out of the café. Neville stood up, wondering what he had just agreed to, and quickly began paying attention again as they walked toward Ollivander's.

"I'll invite the relatives. It'll be small, of course, but you really deserve it. From what you tell me, the amount in which you have improved from last year to this year is enormous. I'll send an owl to Conjuring Caterers tomorrow and order some food. Oh, Algie will be so proud of you…"

It was then, as Neville walked behind Mrs. Longbottom into Ollivanders, that he realized what was going to happen:

Gran was giving a party. In his honor. With people. Not just people, but his relatives. Who would make him talk about…her. It. Everything.

Neville turned so white that Mr. Ollivander stopped in the middle of his greeting and inquired after his health. He quickly shook himself out of his temporary stupor and apologized, he had just felt faint for a moment, but he was fine.


Neville woke with a start in a cold sweat, shaking and breathing heavily. "It was just a dream," he whispered, trying to get his breath under control and curling into the fetal position under his blanket. After a minute, he gave up and rolled his feet onto the floor. He stood, and walked into the hallway for a glass of water.

Neville was used to it by this point; the nightmares had been fairly steady and very reliable since he had returned from the Ministry and Madame Pomfrey mended his nose. Every night he was in the Department of Mysteries, wand ready, alone except for the wounded bodies of his friends lying around him, armed only with the knowledge that she was somewhere nearby. Every night, she would emerge from the shadows with a sickening smile on her once beautiful face. She would give him a minute, her cruel eyes inviting him to do his worst to her, but he was always frozen and could do nothing but stare. After that, she would inflict the curse on him, he would feel a flash of unbearable pain, and then he would wake up, covered in sweat, unable to return to sleep for at least an hour.

Upon returning to his room, he eyed the windowsill beside his bed where he kept his three most treasured possessions: Trevor, his Mimbulus Mimbletonia, and, most recently, his new wand. When he looked at the wand, he felt a small surge of pride. His father's wand had meant a lot to him, but in a way he was almost relieved at its being broken. It had always stood by as a reminder – a reminder of the father he had never actually gotten to know, a reminder of his Gran's watchful eye over his mediocre progress, a reminder of the wizard he knew he could never be…in fact, though he was ashamed to admit it, he sometimes felt that it mocked him after exams. Not that I didn't deserve it, he thought, thinking of his dismal past performances as he climbed back under the covers.

The new wand was different. His trip to Ollivander's had been, well, different as well. It had taken him 42 tries to find the wand that was sitting on the windowsill, a fact that made Mr. Ollivander quite happy. "I knew you'd be difficult," he had said with a knowing smile. Before Neville could wonder if the O.W.L. judges had already spread the word that he was a miserable failure, Ollivander had continued, "I only say that, Mr. Longbottom, because of the fact that both your mother – 12 inches, hemlock, dragon heartstring core – and your father – 13 inches, cherry, unicorn tail – took quite awhile to find theirs…"

When he finally did find his wand –12 inches, cherry, dragon heartstring– sparks had flown, both physically, and mentally. For the first time, he had felt like something he'd never thought he could be: a wizard. It had only lasted for a second, but it was there. DA lessons had come close, but nothing had ever made him feel quite so capable before. In fact, he felt more capable just thinking about it, and was about to close his eyes and use the feeling to try and fall asleep when he saw the clock out of the corner of his eye.

4:59, he thought, which means only 10 hours and 1 minute until the party…He had tried to take back his consent at least once every day since he'd gotten off the Hogwart's Express, but his Gran would hear none of it. She said he deserved a party, and that was what he was going to get whether he liked it or not.

Neville proceeded to stay awake until 5:42.


"NEVILLE! COME DOWNSTAIRS, THE GUESTS WILL ARRIVE ANY SECOND!"

Tie properly straightened, Neville looked in the mirror, screwed up his courage, and began the walk down the stairs. The hour he had been actively dreading since his return from Hogwarts had finally arrived. With each step, he tried to think of an encouraging thought.

It'll be all right as long as no one makes me talk about it. He heard a knock at the door.

No harm in cake. "I'm coming, I'm coming!" Gran called, making her way into the living room.

Gran made her special quadruple-layered-double chocolate-caramel-peanut butter surprise cake. (The surprise was chocolate frog pieces, and she always gave him the cards). Gran opened the door; he was almost there.

As he reached the bottom of the staircase, he heard his Gran exclaim, "Oh hello, Algie, Enid! I'm so glad you could make it!"

Suddenly, he was out of good thoughts.

"Hello, hello, where's the boy?" Algie replied hurriedly, pushing past Gran to move to where Neville had just descended the staircase.

"NEVILLE!" he shouted, slapping his great nephew so hard on the back that Neville had to grab the railing to keep his balance. "Your father would be so proud. Bloody hell, I'm so proud – never thought this would happen! Never really thought you'd amount to much, to be honest –"

"ALGIE!" Great Aunt Enid screeched, slapping her husband with her large purse before turning to Neville herself. "We really are proud of you, dear," she said, pulling him into a hug as other Longbottoms came through the door, bringing with them a blanket of noise. "Ever since you were dropped out that window, I knew that you'd make all of us proud. To think! Facing Bellatrix Lestrange and coming out alive! At 15! Algie, I still can't believe it…"

As other relatives made their ways to Neville and said similar things, he began to feel ill. "Dreadfully clumsy boy," he heard Great Uncle Algie say. "Wouldn't've known he was Frank's son until I heard the news…"

"Such a surprise, never would have thought…"

"Our little Neville, all grown up, so brave…"

"To think! Bellatrix Lestrange! After what she did to Frank and Alice…"

"Frank and Alice…"

"…brave, just like Frank…"

Turning around, Neville walked slowly up the stairs to his bedroom and shut the door, shaking a little bit. Sitting on his windowsill, he picked up Trevor and held him in his lap, eyes brimming over as he looked down at him.

"Frank and Alice. All anyone ever talks about around here," he mumbled through his tears. "All anyone ever cares about. Everything is for them…" He felt the tears coming on harder, and, ashamed of his feelings even in his solitude, put Trevor back in his tank and went over to his bed. I'm not brave. All of my friends were hurt, and I didn't do anything. She was there, and I couldn't even do anything about that. They all want me to be just like my dad… he thought, wiping his eyes and sitting down. "Just like Frank," he said, almost surprised at the volume of his voice, and flopped backwards. "I can't be like him… I had the chance to be brave, and all I did was break his wand. I let her laugh at me." He turned over and curled up on his side, loosening his tie. I try and I try but I can't be like him… A sudden change came over him as he nearly shouted, "I can't do it anymore!" pounding the bed with each word.

"Neville dear?" called his Gran's voice from outside the door. "What are you shouting about? And why aren't you downstairs? Algie is looking for you."

"Go away," Neville mumbled into his pillow, trying very hard to pull himself together and stop crying.

"What was that? I'm coming in," Gran stated, opening his door as Neville sat up quickly and wiped his eyes.

"What are you saying…dear, what's wrong?" She stopped three steps into the room, a concerned expression taking over for her previous stern look.

"I…said, go away," Neville answered, hesitating, but keeping his angry countenance.

"What do you mean, talking to me that way?" Gran replied, getting madder. "After I went through all this trouble throwing you a party – "

"I didn't want this! I didn't ask for this! I asked you not to do this!"

"Don't you take that tone with me! You may be 15, but I'm still your grandmother, and you will treat me with respect! Your father would have never – "

"I don't bloody care what my father would have done! Is that all you care about? What about ME? I'M NOT MY FATHER!"

For a moment, his rather formidable looking grandmother stopped looking so formidable. Instead, she looked shocked, hurt, and…sorry?

"I…should go back downstairs to the guests. I'll tell them that you're feeling ill, shall I?" She slowly turned around and shut the door, muffling the noise of the party guests that had been seeping in through the open crack

Sitting up, Neville put his head in his hands and once again tried to stop crying. It seemed to be easier this time. The screaming had somehow made him feel better, even a little freer. He had just gotten up to wash his face when he heard a tapping at his window. There was an owl behind the glass. He got up off his bed and opened it, upon which the owl immediately flew in and landed on his headboard, hooting importantly.

"It must be an official school owl," Neville thought, looking the owl over and glancing at the Hogwarts seal on the envelope. He was about to take the letter when he realized what it must be, and froze.

"It's mid-July…O.W.L. results…" he whispered, horrified, and quickly grabbed the letter before he had a chance to speculate what it might contain. Mumbling a "thanks" to the owl, which hooted and flew out the window, he turned the letter over in his hands. It can't be anything else, he thought, school supply letters don't come in until August. Taking a deep breath and reminding himself that he was a Gryffindor, he carefully undid the wax seal and opened the envelope with trembling hands. Slowly, he slid his fingers over the parchment inside and pulled it out, letting the envelope flutter to the floor.

Mr. Longbottom,

Enclosed are the results of your O.W.L.'s. If there are any questions or problems, please direct an owl to the Center for Magical Tests and Certifications at the Ministry of Magic.

Minerva McGonnagall, head of Gryffindor House.

Shaking, he flipped the page to where his results should be, and viewed the table with anxious eyes.

Name: Neville Longbottom

Exam: Ordinary Wizarding Levels

Results:

Neville took a deep breath and closed his eyes, before opening them and reading his results.

Herbology - E

Defense Against the Dark Arts - E

Charms - O

Potions - A

Transfiguration – A

Divination - D

Astronomy - A

Ancient Ruins - A

History of Magic – F

Care of Magical Creatures - E

Total results: 8 O.W.L.'s

8 O.W.L.'s. Eight. Out of ten. Three E's…he had gotten E's! In three classes! And an O! And he had passed potions! It was then that, despite everything, he felt a wave of warmth wash over him to the point where he wanted to jump up and yell. So, forgetting why he was so upset in the first place, he did.

"I GOT EIGHT OWLS! YES!" he shouted, pumping his fists in the air and taking a leap of joy. "GRAN!" he shouted, ready to run down the stairs and share the news. He didn't have to go far, as she was on her way down the hall with a cup of tea.

"Neville? What is all the fuss about?" She set the tea on his bedside table.

"O.W.L. results just came, and I got 8!"

"Eight!" Gran exclaimed, grabbing the paper from him and looking it over. "Oh, Neville! I'm so proud! This is fantastic!"

"Yeah…it is," Neville replied, smiling broadly.

"Your parents would be so proud of you. When Frank – Oh, I'm sorry, I didn't mean to – "

"It's okay" Neville said, his joy ebbing a little. "I…know you're proud of me."

"Well, dear, the important thing is whether you're proud of you. I worry, you know."

Neville stopped. "I'm…I'm not my dad, Gran."

She was silent as they both sat down on his bed. Neville looked awkwardly around the room, wondering what to do next. Well, he thought to himself, you've already started it…might as well keep going. He took a deep breath.

"No matter how hard I try, I can never be my dad."

"I know, dear," she said slowly.

"I just feel like I can't ever meet your expectations…I know you love me, but it's so hard sometimes."

He was met with more silence.

"I…it was so hard, in the Department of Mysteries. I know you're proud, and I know you want to celebrate and make me feel good about it, but I don't think I can feel good about it right now. I don't think I can talk about it yet, either. I wasn't a hero in there. I was scared, and I'm still scared. My friends were hurt very badly, and someone died, and she was there, and I couldn't do anything about it…I told you, I have nightmares about it."

He stopped and looked at his hands, half expecting a reply. None came.

"I just…I just…wish that you would, I don't know, listen to what I'm saying sometimes. I feel like you're brushing me off when I tell you things. I know you don't mean to," he said, looking up at his Grandmother anxiously, "but that's how it feels."

"Oh, Neville," she replied, "I never meant to – "

"Like with the party," Neville interrupted while he had the chance, and quickly continued, "I've been telling you that I didn't want a party since the day I got home, and you didn't listen. I wasn't being modest, I was being serious, and…you didn't take me seriously."

The look of sorrow that had been on Gran's face earlier had returned, Neville noticed in the quick glances he was occasionally stealing in between bouts of looking at his hands. "I know you mean well, Gran," he continued slowly, "but when you ask whether or not I'm proud of myself…I mean, you say you're proud of me. But are you proud of me because of what I am, or are you proud of me because I'm starting to act more like my father?"

He took the opportunity to look up from his hands for good, looking his Grandmother directly in the eye. To his great surprise, he saw tears. This threw him off guard, and his resolve to be firm began to weaken.

"Oh, I didn't mean to – "

"No, Neville, it's alright," she said, pulling him into a hug. "You're right. I've been horribly unfair to you, and I don't know how you can ever forgive me." They broke apart, and she pulled out a handkerchief to wipe her eyes.

"Don't be silly," Neville answered. "Of course I can forgive you, you're my family, you've always been there for me and taken care of me, and I love you, and I know that you love me."

"Oh, I'm so sorry," she choked, crying harder still. "I've been so unfair. I'm sorry about all of this, treating you like I did, throwing you this party…THE PARTY!" Suddenly, she was sitting straight, frantically wiping her eyes. "The family! They're downstairs, wondering what on earth is – "

"Don't worry, Gran," Neville said, rising from the bed. "I'll go downstairs, you clean yourself up and come down when you can."

"But Neville, you don't want to be around people, you didn't want this party…you're upset," she answered, standing as well.

"No, I didn't want the party," he stated resolutely, "but…as long as it's here…I did just get my O.W.L. results…" He smiled, staring at the paper he was still holding in his hands. "That should distract them from the reason for the party long enough for you to come downstairs and distract them some more."

"Come here, Neville," his Gran said, holding out her arms and folding her grandson into a hug. "When I say I'm proud of you, I mean it – I'm proud of you."

"Thanks, Gran," Neville mumbled, smiling. His Gran let him go, and he walked out of the room and down the stairs with relative ease. "Hey everyone," he called as he reached the bottom, "Guess what?"

(end)