No Heroes Here
K+ - Angst - NL, (HP) - Complete
They all waited for Harry to save them. But Neville knew Harry wasn't a hero, Harry was just a boy. Not HBP compliant
Disclaimer: The characters are JKR's, though I think Neville is scandalously underused.
They all waited for Harry to save them. He saw them, going about their lives with gay abandon because they had so much faith in a sixteen-year-old boy that they didn't think anything bad could happen. They didn't bother trying to fight back themselves because they didn't need to: Harry would save them and then all would be well. Even the adults, who should know Harry was only a boy, who should know that there was nothing a boy could do to stop the Dark Lord of the century and his menacing minions.
He was only clumsy, forgetful Neville Longbottom, and he knew that.
Harry talked to him sometimes. There was a bond between them because they'd both of them lost their parents, only Harry said that Neville had it worse. Harry said that he thought Neville was braver than he could ever be.
(Neville had thought of nightmares and whispered rumours and visits to his parents and the night at the Ministry and he'd known better.)
And because Harry talked to him sometimes, Neville knew that he was just a boy, no different to Neville except that everybody thought he was important (which he was, but not for the reasons everyone else thought) and he had a tiny bit more confidence (but not much more, because he was just as scared and uncertain as Neville really, and Neville hadn't understood why at first, because he was Harry and no one ever thought of Harry as being scared - but really, it was obvious). Neville didn't understand why Ron and Hermione didn't see it, but maybe they did, only they hid it like he did because no one else would believe it. Maybe they talked about it between themselves and wondered how to help their friend. Neville had no one to talk to, so he talked to Trevor.
(Trevor wasn't much good at giving advice, but he was a good listener, and sometimes Neville felt he was just as interested in Harry as Neville was.)
Neville liked Harry, he really did. Harry was never mean to him, and had stood up to Malfoy for him and sometimes smiled at him in sympathy when Snape was being scary. Harry was always the centre of attention, though, so Neville didn't normally get close to him. He didn't like being the centre of attention (Harry didn't either, but Neville could get away better because he was a nobody). Because he liked Harry, he watched him. Maybe he couldn't protect him, but if things were going bad he could smile or offer a chocolate frog. Neville knew that little things made you feel better, because Harry did little things for him and they made him feel better.
When he watched Harry getting so tired and worn and faded, though, he knew that smiles and chocolate frogs weren't going to help. Everyone was watching Harry, waiting for him to save them, and it wasn't fair. Harry had already saved them once, so Neville didn't see why he should have to do it again. He talked to Trevor about it, because even if he had had someone else to talk to he wouldn't have dared to. No one was allowed to insult Harry or suggest that maybe he couldn't succeed where everyone else failed (he was a hero and heroes never failed - but he was Harry and Harry wasn't a hero). But Neville was scared. He was used to being scared, for all sorts of reasons, but this time it wasn't for himself. Harry had done so much already, and now they wanted him to do more, and Neville didn't see that he could, because he was so tired and he was just a boy and it wasn't fair!
(Nothing is fair, his grandmother said once, and he'd decided right then that that wasn't right and that one day he was going to find a way to make everything fair.)
They wanted a hero and Harry wasn't a hero and Neville didn't see why he should have to be a hero. (Trevor listened gravely as Neville poured it all out.) He wanted to help Harry, he wanted to make it fair. (Trevor croaked quietly as his voice wobbled.) They were all just waiting for someone to save them, and why should it be Harry? Really, why should it be Harry? (Trevor shook his heavy head sadly, and Neville snuffled, trying not to cry.) He wanted to help Harry, because Harry had always been nice to him.
He'd thought maybe he understood Harry better than anyone, because sometimes Harry would talk to him. But now, as he flitted out of the school, shaking violently, he knew he'd been wrong. Now he understood Harry. Maybe Harry really was a hero, when he'd done this every year, been this scared and done those things anyway. Neville wasn't a hero. He just wanted to help Harry.
(All he'd ever wanted to do was lead a quiet life amongst his plants, far from any people, but there were his parents and his grandmother and then there was school, and he'd never abandon Harry. Would it be quiet after this?)
They weren't expecting him, and so he got quite far into the stronghold before they realised he was there. Well, they were the bad guys, they didn't expect the comic relief to slip in the door and try to confront their master.
(He'd only ever been the comic relief in the book that was Harry's life, but that was okay, because he was doing this for Harry, who was so tired and weary and didn't deserve to be forced to be a hero.)
They laughed at him, they taunted him and hurt him (but they did that at school too, so that was okay, only there was no Harry here to make it better, because he was here for Harry). They didn't know about the prophecy, not like he did (Harry talked to him sometimes, and Neville listened). They didn't know when his birthday was. They didn't know why he was here.
(Love, Harry had whispered. The power he knows not.)
They took him to their master when they'd done laughing, and You Know Who stared at him with evil eyes and Neville knew he'd have nightmares for the rest of his life (only he didn't think that would be too long now, so maybe it didn't matter). They asked questions, only Neville didn't have the answers, so they hurt him so more, but it was for Harry, old and tired and just a boy, and he was so scared but it didn't matter, all that mattered was getting the one opportunity he needed.
Herbology was the only subject he was any good at, after all. It might as well help him make everything right for Harry. You Know Who didn't know that when you combined several kinds of sap just right and cast the Killing Curse at it you caused a really big explosion. (Or maybe he did, but he didn't know that Neville knew and had soaked his robes in the mixture before escaping Hogwarts.)
Maybe no one would ever know what happened. Maybe they'd think it was an accident and You Know Who blew himself up (hopefully that would make Harry laugh). But it didn't matter. All that mattered was that Harry was safe and wasn't going to be tired any more. Maybe Harry would be allowed to be a boy now. Maybe they'd leave him alone when they didn't need a hero any more. Neville liked to think that would be how it went (his grandmother always said he was too romantic).
Harry deserved to be free, because he was the best person Neville knew - he'd say Harry was his hero, only Harry wasn't a hero. Neville wasn't a hero either, he just needed to help Harry. This was just another little thing to help Harry, and he'd helped in the only way he knew how. It was better that it was him, because Harry had friends, Harry was needed. He hoped that Harry would be happy (he'd loved Harry, he'd wished Harry was his brother, he'd only ever wanted to help him).
Maybe - maybe he'd find some quiet now. Funny, he wasn't scared anymore.