“The one with the power to vanquish the Dark Lord approaches … born to those who have thrice defied him, born as the seventh month dies … and the Dark Lord will mark him as his equal, but he will have power the Dark Lord knows not … and either must die at the hand of the other for neither can live while the other survives … the one with the power to vanquish the Dark Lord will be born as the seventh month dies …”
Quoted above is the prophecy made by Sybill Trelawney about the boy who is destined to defeat Voldemort. Two boys fill the requirements – Neville Longbottom and Harry Potter. However, the prophecy has pertained to Harry ever since the Dark Lord, believing that it was the Potters’ son who is destined to defeat him, tried to kill Harry. In doing so, Voldemort ironically made the prophecy come true.
Thus, Harry Potter has become the chosen one, the hero, the savior of the wizarding world. Likewise, being unchosen, Neville ceased to be an option and grew up as an ordinary boy.
Neville started out as awkward, careless, prone to accident, and forgetful. Also, he performed poorly in most of his classes except Herbology. He was often bullied but he could not defend himself. Seeing him in his first few days at Hogwarts, one would wonder how this boy ended up in Gryffindor. One would think that Voldemort was right in picking Harry instead of Neville.
Nevertheless, Neville learned to stand up against evil and became one of the bravest in his batch, re-organizing the Dumbledore’s Army. He would often defy the Death Eaters in order to give others hope even though it meant he would get beaten. Most of all, when everyone thought Harry was dead, he was the one who boldly told the Dark Lord that the fight was not yet over for them. With or without the savior, the battle must go on. It does not mean that, when the destined hero is dead, they all must kowtow to the Dark Lord. In the absence of the chosen one, Neville took the responsbility to continue the battle against evil.
He may have been just an ordinary boy, not chosen by Voldemort as his equal, but he still became a source of hope during a time when everyone thought the supposed hero was dead.
Neville’s evolution in the series can also be a source of inspiration for all of us. His feats show that everyone can be a hero. It doesn’t matter if we have a painful past. It doesn’t matter if we are not famous, smart or wealthy. One does not have to be a protege of someone great. One does not need to have a title. One does not have to wait to be chosen. Instead, it is our choice that matters.
We may be ordinary. Others may not believe in us. But we can still choose to move, to change, to fight for a greater cause, to send out love to others, to be a source of hope and inspiration. We just need to believe in ourselves.
Let me end with a quote from The Order of the Phoenix movie that shows Neville beginning to embrace who he is, an exchange with Harry which I believe was significant in Neville’s development.
Neville Longbottom: Fourteen years ago, a Death Eater named Bellatrix Lestrange used the Cruciatus Curse on my parents. She tortured them for information, but they never gave in. I’m quite proud to be their son. But I’m not sure I’m ready for everyone to know just yet.
Harry Potter: We’re going to make them proud, Neville. That’s a promise.
Indeed, he did!