Summary: One-shot.Five-year-old Neville Longbottom sees his parents for the first time since they were tortured into insanity.
Disclaimer: Not mine. Never was mine. Don't sue.
The boy clutched his grandma's hand tightly as they walked through the white halls of St. Mungo's. His eyes were full of anticipation and excitement, and darted from white-clad nurses, to surgical equipment, to the various visitors that had come to greet their injured loved ones.
"Fourth floor; Spell damage," came a disembodied voice to the left
"Are we weelly gonna meet my mum and dad?" he asked hopefully.
The woman looked down in annoyance. "Neville, you've been asking that same question ever since I told you about it. Yes, you're going to meet Alice and Frank." Under her breath, "Should have done it ages ago. There's nothing to be ashamed of. But no, Enid said that he wasn't old enough, and wouldn't be able to deal with all the trauma." She sniffed.
Neville didn't notice. He was too caught up with looking at the big double doors, probably more than three times his height. He stared up in awe.
His nan tugged his arm, leading him away from the door, and in another direction. "Come on, Neville. No lallygagging, now."
They walked down the corridor, Neville breaking into a trot to keep up with his long-legged grandmother. They came to a door, with big writing above it that said, "JANUS THICKERY WARD." Neville couldn't read the writing, of course. He was, after all, only five.
There was a young woman standing outside the door, surely no more than twenty years old. She had a clipboard in one hand, and a short, stubby quill in the other. Hearing the sounds of footsteps, she looked up. Her eyes widened considerably when she saw the stuffed-vulture hat sitting on Mrs. Longbottom's head.
"Um, are you here to see the, um, patients?"
"I am Lithiora Longbottom, and this is my grandson Neville. We are here to see Alice and Frank Longbottom."
The woman consulted the sheet in front of her, and ticked something off. "Um, yeah, you're expected. Follow me." She turned to the door, brought out her wand, and muttered, "Alohomora." She then opened the door.
Mrs. Longbottom pulled Neville through the door. The boy took everything in slowly, staring with wide eyes.
"… Nana?" He asked eventually. "Why is evewyone so… stwange looking?"
His grandmother gave him a light rap on the head. "Shut your mouth, Neville. Don't talk about unfortunate people in that way."
But they were strange, Neville thought to himself. And if they were strange, why couldn't he say so?
He wondered why his parents were living with strange people. They were famous explorers, weren't they? That's what his Great Aunt Enid had told him. Maybe they were on a quest, where they had to meet every sort of person possible.
Well, thought Neville, this was certainly the right place for it.
He was led down the ward, past many beds with a whole variety of people in and around them. His nan pulled him all the way down, to the end.
"These, Neville, are your parents."
Neville looked. Sitting up on the double bed were two vacant-eyed adults. Neville didn't recognise them at first, but then his memory accomplished an astounding feat.
Two faces, smiling down at him.
"Who's my bestest boy, then? You are, of course!"
"He knows, Frank. You don't have to shout it out at him."
"Of course I do, my dear Alice. It's a matter of principle."
The boy gave a cry of joy, and flung himself on the bed and into his mother's arms. "Mum! Dad!" he cried.
There was no response, and no arms wrapped themselves around him. Slowly, Neville looked up.
His mother stared down at him blankly, with perhaps a hint of confusion in her face. Her mouth was open, and a little dribble of drool was slowly trickling down her face.
Neville's brow creased. "Mum?" he asked.
She didn't say anything, didn't even acknowledge Neville.
The boy took his arms away from his mother's, and turned to his father. "Dad?" He asked. There was a hint of fear in his voice.
The man didn't even look in Neville's direction. He had a silver quill in his hand, and was slowly drawing circles on his arm with it, concentrating intently with his tongue poking out.
His nan spoke up. "Neville, there is something I have to tell you."
The boy looked up at his grandmother. His eyes were wide, but with alarm this time, rather than excitement.
"Why won't they say anything, Nana?" he asked softly.
The woman looked a little guilty. "Well, truth to tell, Neville, your parents aren't actually the famous explorers that Enid made them out to be. They are famous, but not for that."
"Why won't they answer me?" Sitting curled up with his hands held tightly together, Neville looked small and scared.
"They were once… aurors. Both of them. Brilliant, too. Not many were better, and as a team they were practically unbeatable."
Her voice turned harsh. "However, they were tortured to insanity by You Know Who's followers, just a little after your first birthday. And there is no cure to insanity."
"You shouldn't be ashamed, Neville," Mrs. Longbottom said sharply. "You should be proud of them! They gave their minds to aid the cause of the light."
Neville felt tears filling his eyes, and an uncomfortable feeling entered him. It was a bit like when he fell over and grazed his knee, or when he wanted an ice-cream, but couldn't have it, or whin he had accidently dropped his toy dragon in a boiling cauldron. However, those feelings had been magnified a hundred-fold, so it was like a tearing pain in his stomach.
"Don't cry, Neville," his grandmother said shortly. "You'll desecrate their memories."
The boy slowly crawled off his parents' bed, his head down. He had thought, when he heard he was going to meet his parents, that everything would be good again. He wouldn't have his great uncle almost killing him in an attempt to get some magic out of him. He wouldn't have his grandmother always saying he wasn't good enough.
He would be hugged.
He would feel loved.
There was a slight touch, on his shoulder. Neville turned.
It was his mother. Her gaze was slightly unfocused, but the boy could see that she was looking at him. Her arm was held outward, and in her palm there was a chocolate frog wrapper. She was clearly offering it to him.
Neville looked at it for a moment, an indescribable expression on his face. Then, ever so slowly, he took it. "Thanks, Mum," he said quietly.
Sometimes you have to treasure what you get, because you know that's all someone can give you.