Disclaimer: Not mine.
Once upon a time, there was a boy named Neville.
He was chubby and awkward and forgetful, and sometimes he wished he'd never been born. He got the feeling most of his relatives wished exactly the same thing, though they never said as much out loud. But his Gran was always telling him he was a failure, that he'd never amount to anything, that his parents would be ashamed of him, and Neville believed her because she was his Gran and she knew best.
When he was little, he hated visiting his parents at St Mungo's. Their eyes were empty and hollow, and he used to have nightmares after going to see them, nightmares where they gazed at him vacantly and asked why he hadn't saved them, why he was so stupid and useless. He told his Gran about the nightmares once, and she'd scoffed at him and told him to buck up and stop acting like a coward.
He never told Gran about the other dreams, the ones where his mum and dad suddenly got better and came for him and told him that they loved him, that he wasn't a failure or a coward. Neville knew his Gran didn't like fairy tales.
It didn't stop him from wishing and hoping, though, and he never stopped dreaming.
Sometimes, his parents really did seem a little better. They'd look at him like they could actually see him, and would occasionally give him gifts - bits of paper and whatever else they could get their hands on. His mum and dad only got candy around Christmas, which made each crumpled Drooble's Best Blowing Gum or Sugar Quill wrapper all the more precious.
Every time, Gran told him to put the scraps in the trash. Every time, he'd hide them in his pockets and, once he got home, stow them safely away in his father's old trunk.
Later, whenever he felt like hiding from the world or running away from his Gran, he'd dig the scraps out and remember his dreams. And he wouldn't run away or hide, because that meant he'd have given up on his mum and dad.
Though he was only a boy, Neville refused to give up.
Once upon a time, there was a man named Neville. He was a quiet man, strong where it mattered and wiser than his youth warranted.
He wasn't sure at exactly what point he'd grown up, but he supposed it happened around the time when he first realized that his parents weren't going to get better and that dreams don't always come true.
He wished, sometimes, that he could rid himself completely of his childhood, throw out the candy wrappers and bits of paper, tell himself that the past wasn't worth wallowing in.
But most of the time, he wished he'd never given up.