HARRY POTTER: THE PREQUEL
"The Longbottoms were very popular."
Part One - Before Hallowe'en 1981
4. THE LONGBOTTOMS
(Albus Dumbledore, GoF, 523)
"They were Aurors, you know, and very well respected within the wizarding community."
(Mrs. Longbottom, OotP, 454)
We of course can't have an exploration of the events affecting James and Lily Potter bH81 without also looking at Frank and Alice Longbottom. Everything that affected the Potters in this time hangs on the prophecy, which also affects the Longbottoms. We just don't know how, nor are we likely to figure it out with our extremely limited information in the books about the Longbottoms (at least not until HBP comes out, sixty-five and a half days from the time I'm writing this). But we can ask certain questions, and with any luck, deduce certain answers.
We don't know how much the Longbottoms' lives were affected by the prophecy - like whether or not they had to go into hiding, and what sort of difficulties they faced keeping Neville safe - so there aren't vast amounts of information to discuss, but my key question is a fairly standard one. That is, how did Voldemort learn that Neville Longbottom was a potential candidate for "the one" spoken about in the prophecy?
Before I move on, I need to clarify a basic assumption that underpins that question: namely, did Voldemort get information about Neville? I would argue that he did. As mentioned in section one, I've wondered if maybe Voldemort chose Harry not because Harry was half-blood, but because Voldemort discovered Harry's location and not Neville's. That's relevant here because I also wondered whether or not Voldemort even knew of Neville's existence, even had an inkling that there was another potential "one". Dumbledore talks as though Voldemort of course knew, but how did Dumbledore know that?
Well, firstly, Dumbledore's a clever bloke, and I'm sure he's got many ways to discover such things, such as through Dspies. I fervently doubt that Dumbledore would give Harry such a thought-provoking statement of Voldemort choosing a half-blood over a pure-blood if he didn't think it had been that way.
Secondly, Dumbledore indicates that Voldemort chose to attack Harry over Neville, and we all know that JKR loves to emphasize the importance of choice. I just can't see her giving Harry an un-escapable destiny through a prophecy (especially as she doesn't believe in fate), then showing how someone's choice led Harry to be involved in that destiny, then later showing that it wasn't really someone's choice at all, just another chance event that stopped Voldemort from learning about Neville. If she's dealing with prophecies, she's got to involve true, proper choice somehow.
Thirdly, the prophecy says that Voldemort would "mark him as his equal". My understanding of that is, Voldemort would mark the one he decides, or perceives, is his equal. (It's kind of like a man giving a woman an engagement ring to mark her as the one he decides is his future wife. But not really, of course, because analogies of love are hard to apply when you're dealing with a Dark Lord.) Therefore, Voldemort picked one as being the greater threat (his equal) over the other, which means he must have had the opportunity of choice. Maybe I'm reading too much into the prophecy, but it says to me that Voldemort would choose his nemesis - and so he did.
And fourthly, although this one is less likely, I think we know Dumbledore well enough to say that as he is a strong believer in choice, he might have even let Voldemort learn about Neville to be sure that Voldemort was actually making a conscious, informed decision when he picked a boy to pursue. I'm not entirely sure about that one though.
So if we accept that Voldemort did know that a boy named Neville Longbottom was a potential "one", the question remains: how did he know that?
One Spy Only
As I mentioned earlier in section two, the Vspy of the Order (Pettigrew) is suspected of being "someone close to the Potters". If everyone in the Order knew pretty much everything about everyone else, then when Voldemort found out things about the Potters, the information could have come from anyone. But this is not the case. Therefore, there was a certain amount of secrecy even within the Order, meaning members didn't know the movements of all the other members (a simple safety precaution because you can never be too sure, it seems).
To take some more points out of section two, McGonagall's statement on page 153 of PoA makes it sound like there was only one spy within the Order. (She probably got her information from Dumbledore, and I doubt she'd have reason to lie or hide certain information.) Now, if there was only one Vspy in contact with the Order, how did Voldemort find out about Neville? Remember, even if it was widely known that Lily and Alice were expecting at that time, Dumbledore would probably still make an effort to keep the dates of Harry and Neville's births secret from the wider wizarding community, and Voldemort needs that information to know whether or not each kid may be "the one". Voldemort gets his information about Harry from Pettigrew, but where does he get his information about Neville?
It's less of a significant issue if Dumbledore, as I suggested, allowed Voldemort to learn about Neville, because then the method of subtly ("accidentally") communicating that is not very relevant. But I still want to look at the topic. I want to know if there was another spy that Dumbledore wasn't aware of - and if that spy could still be in our midst. (*Spooky!*)
Voldemort learns about the prophecy. In early August, Voldemort wants to know who "the one" is. Snape tells Voldemort that Pettigrew's a bit pathetic, a bit of a weakling - so soon Pettigrew is on side. Pettigrew tells Voldemort that Harry fits the description of "the one". Now, how do the Longbottoms come into this?
My first idea is that Pettigrew knew of Neville through the Potters. It makes sense that when Dumbledore is telling the Potters how Harry may be "the one", he would also say that it might be a) someone else or b) the Longbottoms' son, Neville. Either way, if the Potters share their anxiety about the prophecy (without telling its contents) with their close friends, Pettigrew could easily learn of Neville, or at least the fact that there's another candidate. Odds are, too, that he would also have known it as an exhaustive list - in other words, Dumbledore probably would have said, "It might be Harry or it might be Neville. There's no one else it could be." That's handy information to know if you're the Dark Lord referred to in the prophecy, as Voldemort probably is. ;-)
My second idea is that Pettigrew knew the Longbottoms themselves. We've no idea how old they are but I'm going to say they're probably ten years older than the Potters, possibly more. (In OotP, Alice's hair has turned white, but this could be because of the physical stress the Cruciatus curse placed her under; also, Frank and Alice, as Mrs Longbottom said, were excellent Aurors, and well-respected for it, which means they've probably been Aurors for quite some time.) That makes it a little unlikely that they were school friends with the Marauders or Lily. However, the Longbottoms, as Dumbledore said, "were very popular", so maybe they were friendly enough for most people in the Order to want to know when their baby had been born, and other such information. And perhaps, once the Potters and Longbottoms knew of the prophecy, they met to talk - who can understand what they're going through better than the other people going through the same thing? So I think, even if the Potters and Longbottoms' whereabouts and movements were not shared with everyone, it's likely that the good news about the healthy arrivals of their sons was information that Order members - who were all trusted - would know. Therefore, it wouldn't be too hard for Pettigrew to give Voldemort information about Neville.
My third idea ties into the second, and works on the assumption that the Potters and Longbottoms were friends, and had friends in common. This theory is that Pettigrew was the spy for both the Potters and the Longbottoms. Now, I know I've established that it's not necessary to have a friend turned spy in order to gain this information, but I'm fairly sure that Voldemort didn't employ Pettigrew simply to inform him of "the one" - it makes sense that Voldemort would follow this up with receiving all kinds of information about the Order, and specifically, about those significant families, the Potters and the Longbottoms. Voldemort was getting information of the Potters' movements from Pettigrew, so unless he picked Harry as his target from the outset, he would probably also want to keep tabs on the Longbottoms. Even if he'd decided to attack Harry, he still might be confused at there being two candidates, and might want the backup plan of attacking Neville once he'd attacked Harry, just to be on the safe side.
Come to think of it, what exactly did Voldemort expect when he attacked Harry? Did he expect some sort of bizarre magical fireworks, or a feeling of immortality, to suggest that he'd attacked the right kid, and "the one" was out of the way? If he had no way of *knowing* that he had to choose one (which would make the other irrelevant), and either assumed he would choose, or just planned to attack both, then it makes sense that Voldemort would go after Neville once Harry was dead as a safety precaution.
If so, then from the moment Voldemort goes to Godric's Hollow, Pettigrew's at great risk. He's just betrayed the Potters to Voldemort, and until both Harry and Neville are dead, Pettigrew can't be sure that his master will reign forever. So from the time when people discover that Voldemort has killed the Potters, to the time when Voldemort finishes off Neville, Pettigrew's in a precarious position - Sirius and other Order members could be after him at any moment. Also, the moment Dumbledore gets wind that the Potters are dead, Voldemort would assume (because he doesn't know the bit from the prophecy about "mark him as his equal") that Dumbledore would triple the security measures in place from the Longbottoms. Voldemort's best chance is surprise, and to already have it all lined up. He's got the Potters in place to attack, but he needs easy access to the Longbottoms immediately following, and for that he might just need a spy.
But I don't really think it could be Pettigrew, if there is a spy for the Longbottoms. Pettigrew is put at great risk and is brought under suspicion when he betrays the Potters, but if Voldemort needs Pettigrew in order to get to the Longbottoms immediately following, then maybe he wouldn't let Pettigrew be put at risk like that. If Pettigrew were Secret-Keeper for both the Potters and the Longbottoms, Pettigrew could give Voldemort both locations and then no longer be needed, but I don't think that's likely. The Longbottoms would surely have someone else as their Secret-Keeper, if they had one (and there's nothing to say they did, not even anything to suggest that they were hiding, or even that Voldemort was after them). As well as this, Pettigrew probably isn't close enough to the Longbottoms to spy on them. Sure, he's an Order member, but he's not their direct friend, and doesn't get the juiciest gossip - uh, sorry, I mean, the most crucial information.
An Unknown Spy
My fourth idea, which links to the third but not the second, is that someone was spying on the Longbottoms, and either this wasn't known, or it was someone outside the Order and close to the Longbottoms. (This is to fit with McGonagall's inference that there was only one Vspy among the Order.) Let's go back to Moody's photo of Order members and check it out. (It's page 158 of the Australian edition of OotP, if you want to have a look.)
We have Mad-Eye Moody sitting with Dumbledore on one side and Dedalus Diggle on the other. Next mentioned is Marlene McKinnon, who, along with her family, was murdered shortly after the picture was taken (which seems to be before Harry and Neville were born, or afterwards with the kids in wizarding childcare). Frank and Alice Longbottom are next, then Emmeline Vance, that stately-looking witch who comes to pick up Harry at the start of OotP, then Lupin. Benjy Fenwick is next, said to have been found only in bits. The people at the back come to the front, and we have Edgar Bones - he and his family were killed. Next is Sturgis Podmore, who, as we know, was placed under the Imperius curse by Malfoy, so I'm betting he isn't a Death Eater. Caradoc Dearborn vanished six months after the picture was taken, and his body was never found. Could be him, but he left a bit early to still be spying on the Longbottoms around six months later (depending when this was taken). Hagrid doesn't seem a likely bet to me. Elphias Doge we know very little about, except that he "used to wear that stupid hat". Gideon and Fabian Prewett - Molly's brothers, who've been murdered. Aberforth Dumbledore wouldn't be spying on the Longbottoms. We've next got Dorcas Meadowes, who Voldemort killed personally - now there's a possibility, because Voldemort could have pretended to kill her to save her from suspicion or something. And lastly, Sirius, Lily, James, and Pettigrew. (Odd how Lupin's not sitting with them. If it's before Harry's birth and Pettigrew becoming a Vspy, then this suggests Lupin had been segregated from the other Marauders for quite some time.)
Personally, I don't think any of those make good contenders for a Vspy. The bit about Caradoc Dearborn seems to be a throwaway line to me that could eventuate into much more. But I don't think the picture was taken that late in Voldemort's reign, because if this is the original Order, then most of them died only in the last few months before Hallowe'en 1981. Dorcas Meadowes could be a possibility, but she wasn't even sitting with the Longbottoms. So maybe there was someone else.
The only person I can think of (mainly because we're limited in what we know anyway) is Mrs. Longbottom. Her support of Dumbledore, praise of her son, and distaste for the Daily Prophet could be an act. But I don't really think so.
I'm still wondering whether or not the Longbottoms were in hiding, and if so, how, but it's not a question I can easily answer. It does, however, tie well into the next section: the Potters in hiding. If we can figure out the Potters, maybe we can figure out the Longbottoms too.
Posted by: Nicole
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