Disclaimer: I'm not J.K. Rowling; I'm only visiting her universe for nonprofit fun and edification. (No profit is being made and no copyright infringement is intended).

Author's note: the funeral scene from The Half-Blood Prince, POV Neville: a snippet from my upcoming fan-fiction August is the Cruelest Month (Neville, Augusta, and others).

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Neville doesn't know how he would have gotten through Dumbledore's funeral without Luna Lovegood.

It begins with her helping him into a chair, standing next to him and letting him lean on her arm while he carefully sat down using only his legs. He'd had no idea that he used his abdominal muscles to sit down, until they were crisscrossed with newly formed scar tissue and still screaming at him for the injuries sustained when the Death Eaters invaded Hogwarts.

(When one of his schoolmates let the Death Eaters into Hogwarts. He doesn't even want to think about that part, though it satisfies him that it wasn't just his personal grudge for the bullying; Draco Malfoy actually was that bad.)

Luna is pale and blonde and looks quite ethereal, but she's wiry and strong, and he doesn't feel the faintest tremor in her arm as he leans on it to lower himself into the chair. She has her wand behind her ear, as usual, though once he's seated, she tucks it into her robes. After all, this is a formal occasion.

Not long into the ceremony, everyone is crying, discreetly or not. He looks across and sees tears dripping off the end of Ron Weasley's long nose, and Harry Potter taking off his glasses and angrily wiping his eyes, and Hermione… Hermione Granger is in Ron's arms, and all he can see of her is her wildly curling hair and her back, which is trembling. He doesn't think he's seen Hermione cry more than once or twice in the entire six years he's known her. But that's not the hard part.

The hard part, which he feels guilty thinking about at a funeral, and the Headmaster's funeral at that, is that she's crying in Ron's arms.

He takes a deep breath and remembers that it's much better if he doesn't hope for anything, because he's been at the edge of things all his life and that's not going to change now. The best he can hope is to do his part and not muck it up. Last time, he prevented the Death Eaters from getting the prophecy. This time, he took down Fenrir Greyback and prevented him from running amuck in Hogwarts, which is a not inconsiderable accomplishment. Remus Lupin, his old Defense teacher, visited him in the hospital wing to tell him that he had classmates who didn't even know to be grateful to Neville, because without him they would have been attacked. It's bad enough that Bill Weasley is permanently disfigured.

He and Luna were the only ones to answer the Defense Association summons, because they'd been checking their charmed Galleons regularly. Luna confirmed that, saying how much she'd missed the Defense Association meetings this year. "It was almost like having friends," she said, in that dreamy voice of hers—all mist and moonshine, with the glitter of surgical steel under it. Hard truth. Almost like having friends. That's the best anything's ever gotten here.

And this is the end of things, everybody is saying. That's the part that makes him cry, finally. Luna knows, too, and offers him a handkerchief almost as soon as he feels the burning in his eyes. He's not sure if he's crying for the Headmaster, or for the end of their precarious safety, or for the notion that they might close the school and he'd spend next year sequestered at Gran's, with no chance of seeing any of his school friends again. Or that what's coming is war, which is really the test, the ultimate exam for which he's been training all his life, and he's facing the prospect of disappointing Gran yet again, in a terrible and ultimate way.

The thing he remembers now is first year, the ten points that Dumbledore awarded Gryffindor House in his name, for having the courage to stand up to his friends. Yes, it won them the House Cup. But he remembers the long cold night on the common-room floor, lying paralyzed in the Body-Bind Curse cast by Hermione.

She apologized to him before she did it. "Oh, Neville, I'm so sorry." But nonetheless she did it. To do her justice, it was in the line of duty—well, duty as she understood it. And nothing got between Hermione Granger and her perceived duty. She was a bit scary, Neville thought. Not that he's objected, in the main; except for that one episode, she's been his fierce defender.

Gran might have been like that when she was young, which is probably why Gran approved of her. And he's clearly the grandson of Frank Longbottom, Senior, because he's duplicated his grandfather's feat of falling in love with someone a bit scary.