Voldemort was dead.
It seemed an impossible thing to hear, to say, to believe in the crisp morning air and the bright sunlight. It was not a hope to be cherished or a thing to whisper about in vague conspiracies. It was real, visceral. His body laid where it was, drained of whatever had given the evil man his fearsome aura. Neville looked at it, covered by bedsheets and bound with magical ropes. It and Bellatrix and many others were dead or captured. His parents were avenged. His grandmother was proud of him. Harry lived.
Having delivered the herbs necessary for new healing potions to be brewed, Neville sagged against a long table. The sword of Gryffindor was stuck through his belt, its bare metal occasionally bouncing against his leg. Luna gave it a glance, intrigued, then looked up to meet his eyes. Neville grinned a little. It was all so unbelievable.
"Am I dreaming?" he asked her, trusting Luna would tell him if he was.
She pinched him.
Neville rubbed at the spot and Luna went back to what she was doing. Her hammer went up-up-up and came down, again and again. Neville craned his head to see. She was hammering holes in basilisk teeth, coring them and stringing them through with black wires.
"We did it," Neville said in a voice which had not grown with the rest of him over the years.
"Yes." Luna put the basilisk-tooth necklace over his head like one of the lei girls in movies about Hawaii. Neville accepted it, although he gave her a questioning glance as he fingered the sharp edge of the tooth. "Basilisk teeth have many useful qualities."
Neville nodded and took her word for it. "What do you think I ought to do with the sword?"
Luna looked at it. "You don't want to keep it?"
"I imagine I'd look right odd, carrying a sword around everywhere. Besides, I don't think I'd have much use for it!"
"Have you tried putting it back in the Sorting Hat?"
"It doesn't fit. And the Hat yelled at me." Neville dragged the sword out and wrapped it in one of the seemingly thousand blankets that had been conjured by wizards otherwise useless in the realm of medicine.
"You think my mum and dad were like the people in there?" Neville asked, looking with concern at the great hall. "I mean, you know…"
"All will be well," Luna said. "I saw Fawkes coming back."
The Phoenix. Smashing. Neville had to, quite suddenly, get out. The cries of the wounded were carrying to even the corridor outside the great hall, where Neville and Luna were seated; a curse of some sort had blown a hole through the wall separating them from that scene of simultaneous jubilation and tragedy.
"Thanks for the tooth," Neville said to Luna before fleeing. Luna nodded and draped another necklace over a wounded man as he was carried out on a levitating stretcher.
Neville had realized, at the same time of his flight, where the sword belonged. He had always seen it displayed in the headmaster's office and that was where he headed now. Excitedly. What a change that was! No more dreading that long walk. There had been nothing to fear in the first place! Snape had been working for them, in a thousand subtle ways that Neville uncovered with each rediscovered memory. The headmaster's office was no longer a lair of fear. Hogwarts was theirs again. They had taken it back, for good.
"They're waiting for you," the gargoyle said when he got there, and Neville considered readying his wand in case it was a threat. But the gargoyle rolled its eyes good-naturedly and Neville realized, again, never too many times, that there was nothing more to fear. Still, it was with a respectful stride that he took the stairs, one at a time. With sudden nostalgia so strong he half-expected to find Dumbledore himself there, Neville opened the door.
It was not Dumbledore, but Harry and Hermione and Ron. They were sitting tightly together on the sole window, a large one at that, on the south side of the room. The windowsill was so large that they were all seated comfortably and Neville had the familiar feeling of intruding on a private moment. But Harry beckoned him to stay before Neville could slip away and Neville nodded, grateful. He brandished the sword and all three of them smiled.
"Do you think I should... put it back up?" Neville asked, waving it at the place where it had once been displayed, so long vacant.
"No." Harry was examining the contours of the vaulted ceiling with a gleam in his eyes. "I think the time for it be locked away in here is over."
"Then you take it." Neville offered it to him hilt-first.
Harry looked confused for a moment, reeling, then made a decision. He looked Neville in the eye. "It belongs to Gryffindor. That's all of us."
An epiphany from Hermione! "The common room!"
"Brilliant!" Ron cried. "I'd love to see that in ours."
"The other Houses aren't going to like it," Hermione noted, her suggestion souring a little on her tongue.
"Ravenclaw gets its diadem back..." Harry said.
"Somewhat the worse for wear, though," Hermione added sheepishly.
"Hey! Our sword was covered in snake guts! Twice!"
"I'll be taking this to the common room then."
He left the three of them there, closing the door behind him. Although as he did, he thought he caught a glimpse of the portrait of Dumbledore through the narrowing crack, winking at him. Only a true son of Gryffindor could pull the sword out of the Hat, Harry had explained long ago, when pressed for details by Colin Creevey (oh, Colin…), what Dumbledore had told him. Neville swelled with pride. Him, a Gryffindor. He could barely believe in when he had been Sorted and he had trouble believing it now. Merlin's bread, would his gram ever believe it?
He flew more than ran to the common room, finding it populated by the Gryffindors who hadn't been wounded or had been treated for their minor injuries. Romilda was comforting Seamus, whose arm was in a sling. Neville saw tears on Seamus's cheek when he passed; he ran a hand over the other boy's hair, which said everything.
Feeling all the eyes of the common room on his back, Neville set the sword down atop the mantel place. Later, there would be time to mount it and secure it with charms. For now, it looked right just lying there. Neville flopped down on his bed, suddenly exhausted. As slept claimed him, the last thing he saw was the sword of Gryffindor and the last thing he heard was the swelling applause of his classmates.