Author's Note: This is first in a group of one-shots which was going to be a longer story. But I decided that the story, originally called For Good, will not continue, because it is giving me trouble. At this point in time, there is another huge project, Love is Immortal, that I am working on, and I don't know where I wanted this story to go. So I figured I'd post the chapters I have done as one-shots, as part of an alternate universe where Harry did not survive the battle for the Philosopher's Stone.
Please let me know what you think!
Neville Longbottom sat at the Gryffindor table along with his dormmates Seamus and Dean, waiting for breakfast to arrive. As he pondered the events that happened recently, he couldn't deny that there was, for some reason, a large pit in his stomach, and he knew that last night was the cause.
Last night, he had tried to stop Harry, Ron, and Hermione from losing Gryffindor yet more house points. He didn't know what they were up to, but something told him it wasn't anything good. But for his trouble, he had become the victim of a Body-Bind curse. Hermione Granger had bested him, and he'd lain that way forever, unable to move. It had been hours later when he'd heard Hermione choke out the counterspell, sounding petrified and tearful. He'd tried to ask her what had happened, but she'd just run upstairs without saying anything.
So Neville was left to wonder: what on earth had happened? Why had Hermione sounded so terrified when she'd freed him? And why was it, that whenever he tried to do anything that was associated with magic, he always failed? His gran had always told him he was nothing like his parents, and he was ashamed to admit that she was right. Frank and Alice had been two of the bravest people to walk the planet, and Neville had no right to be related to them in any shape or form.
Still lost in his morose thoughts, Neville glanced around the Great Hall. Where in the world were the said trio that were on his mind? None of them had arrived yet. Then, he glanced at the staff table, and another shiver of fear went through him. Not one staff member was present. What on God's green earth had happened last night?
And then, the doors to the hall opened. Neville watched intently to see who would be coming in. After a few seconds, he saw that it was Professor McGonagall.
But she didn't look right at all. The usually strict, no-nonsense professor looked as though she had been crying. The way she walked, it was as if the whole world was on her shoulders. Taking a closer look, Neville saw oh God was she trembling? What the hell was going on around here?
And then, instead of taking her seat, McGonagall moved to stand directly in front of the room. "May I have your attention, please," she said in a voice which Neville had never heard her use before.
Silence immediately took over the Great Hall as every head turned to look at their stricken professor. No one said a word it was as if everyone knew that something earth-shattering had just taken place.
"Students of Hogwarts, this is truly a terrible day for our world," McGonagall started, her eyes roving over every child, especially the Gryffindors. "I do not want to have to tell you this, but all of you here have a right to know.
"If you remember, Headmaster Dumbledore made an announcement at the beginning of the year that no student was allowed to go on the third floor under any circumstance."
A roaring suddenly began in Neville's ears, and the world started twisting and tilting around him. But despite this, his entire mind was still focused directly on McGonagall as she continued her tale.
She told of how three students - Harry, Ron, and Hermione - had somehow found out what was contained on the third floor, and they had done some true investigation. Upon realizing it was the legendary Philosopher's Stone, and after they'd seen the way some staff members had been acting, they'd come to the conclusion that the Stone was in terrible danger. They'd also come to the conclusion that they needed to stop whatever was about to happen.
She went on to explain, looking incredibly sick as she did it, that last night there had been an altercation between Harry Potter and Professor Quirrell, both fighting for the Stone, and Ron and Hermione had helped Harry to get there. Oh, God, Neville thought. Harry, Ron, and Hermione were not simply sneaking out after curfew to make mischief. They were going to save the school. But something inside him still whispered, you still should have stopped them. You still should have stopped them.
"Professor Dumbledore arrived just in time to pull Harry Potter off Professor Quirrell," McGonagall said, her voice trembling. "You-Know lord Lord V-V-Voldemort had been possessing Quirrell the entire year, and was trying to get a hold of the Stone."
At this, several students gasped, and others burst into tears. Older students immediately flocked to younger ones, trying to calm them down even though their own faces were white.
"Needless to say, Professor Quirrell is now deceased," McGonagall went on, eliciting more gasps from students. "He cannot hurt anyone ever again. The magic Harry used to weaken him caused Lord V-Voldemort to disappear as well. He is gone."
"What happened to Harry?" a Hufflepuff called out, tears streaming down her face. "Where's Harry?"
And Neville knew what was coming as he felt his entire body turn to ice. He couldn't tell how the words registered as Professor McGonagall delivered the final blow, but they did.
"Upon arriving at the hospital wing, Harry was diagnosed with severe magical exhaustion," she said softly, yet her voice still carried through the room. "This is a condition where the body cannot handle all the magic that the recipient used. He had a dangerously high fever and was unconscious. Madame Pomfrey did everything she could to try to heal him, but his young body had been through too much. I'm afraid ..." she whispered as sobs started echoing around the Great Hall, "That Harry Potter is no longer with us."
And with that, she exited the Hall, not able to bring herself to face the students anymore.
Neville sat rooted to the spot for several seconds, listening to the uproar of shouts of denial and sobs around him. People were screaming that it couldn't possibly be true, that the boy was Harry Potter for God's sake, that Harry Potter was invincible, immortal. This had to be some kind of sick joke.
But Neville didn't join the shouting and sobbing. Instead, he just sat there, his entire body frozen and numb. It was his fault, all his fault. I've killed Harry Potter, he thought as ice continued to flood his veins. I didn't stop him from walking straight to his death. It's all my fault.
And with that, Neville's feet were suddenly moving, and he was fleeing the Hall, running faster than he ever had in his life. But as fast as he was going, he couldn't outrun the voices in his head.
Failure, failure, failure. You killed the hope of the wizarding world. Your gran will never want to face you again. You are an insult to your parent's memory. It's your fault.
You, Neville Longbottom, killed Harry Potter.