Neville: Thunder Stealer
by Danielle Menillo
This editorial is not so much a response to the editorial by Peregrin entitled, “The Other” — The Third Person in the Prophecy, but rather an opinion concerning a different third person in the prophecy. In place of Peter Pettigrew in Peregrins editorial, that third person, I believe, is Neville Longbottom. At the risk of antagonizing Maline Freden, whose editorials can be found in the North Tower, I believe the prophecy is talking about three people: Harry, Voldemort, and Neville.
Before you read my editorial, let me tell you that in order to even entertain my theory, you must first be willing to accept the Changeling Hypothesis analyzed in the editorials written by Freden. I will not explain the theory here as it is well-written and explains everything regarding Voldemort’s soul trapped in Harry. Just be aware that my theory regarding Neville in relation to the prophecy is contingent upon accepting the theory. Without accepting it, my theory will make no sense whatsoever and it would be pointless to read on. I also suggest you read (if you have not already) Freden’s arguments regarding Neville and the prophecy (I will not repeat them here) which contradict my theory and prompted me to write my own. Please be mindful that I am not here to trash other people’s theories. I am just asking you to entertain the possibility of mine before you reject it. (Please note that all references are taken from the American version.)
To recap, here is Trelawney’s elusive prophecy:
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 . . . (OotP, pg. 841)
I think Trelawney’s prophecy is talking about BOTH Harry AND Neville — not EITHER/OR. In my opinion, the only way for Voldemort to die is for Harry to die. This will be at the hands of the OTHER — NEVILLE LONGBOTTOM. Neville, possibly at the humble request of Harry, will kill Harry, thus vanquishing Voldemort. I will break it down:
THE ONE WITH THE POWER TO VANQUISH THE DARK LORD APPROACHES . . .
This, of course, pertains to BOTH Harry AND Neville as Dumbledore carefully explains to Harry at the end of OotP on pg. 842.
BORN TO THOSE WHO HAVE THRICE DEFIED HIM
Again, this line pertains to BOTH Harry AND Neville as both sets of parents [had] narrowly escaped Voldemort three times (OotP, pg. 842).
BORN AS THE SEVENTH MONTH DIES . . .
This also pertains to BOTH Harry AND Neville because both are born at the end of July.
AND THE DARK LORD WILL MARK HIM AS HIS EQUAL
Here is the part of the prophecy most people dismiss Neville as being THE ONE because Voldemort chose Harry, not Neville, as his equal by marking him with the scar. Why everyone keeps referring to Harry’s scar as the mark is beyond me. Since when, in any type of fictional world involving any kind of prophecy are they taken literally? Never. It is their job to be vague and ambiguous. It is a tool used by many talented authors to state the obvious in a not-so-obvious way and to throw off the reader. The same holds true here. If the prophecy was so straightforward (as Maline insists it is), then there would not be so much conjecture surrounding these two boys and editorials like mine would not be necessary. We would already know the ending of the seventh book. I don’t think Rowling would go through all this trouble to have Harry kill Voldemort, THE END. We already know this will happen. Why read on further? It is because there is more than meets the eye to this prophecy.
The scar, in my opinion, is irrelevant in terms of the prophecy and serves a different purpose in the story. I am not saying that Harry’s scar is irrelevant. I am just saying it is irrelevant in terms of understanding the prophecy’s real meaning. The mark that is actually referred to is this: Voldemort marked Harry for death because Voldemort saw himself in Harry. He saw Harry as his equal.” Consider the following passage:
:He chose the boy he thought most likely to be a danger to him,” said Dumbledore, ”And notice this Harry. He chose not the pureblood (which, according to his creed, is the only kind of wizard worth being or knowing), but the half-blood, like himself. He saw himself in you before he had ever seen you, and in marking you with that scar, he did not kill you, as intended, but gave you powers, and a future, which have fitted you to escape him not once, but four times so far — something that neither your parents, nor Neville’s parents, ever achieved.” (OotP, pg. 842)
So, Voldemort marked Harry for death. Yes, Harry was marked literally by Voldemort via his scar but that is beside the point. The scar (or mark) is the result of the backfired curse which transferred Voldemort’s soul into Harry’s body. That was accidental on Voldemort’s part, not “an intentional mark.” According to Dumbledore, Voldemort only heard the first part of the prophecy. He tried to kill Harry when he was still a baby, ”believing that he was fulfilling the terms of the prophecy,” (OotP, pg. 839). And Voldemort succeeded in this feat. He did not fail. He marked Harry as his equal. He did this believing he was fulfilling a part of the prophecy mind you, that he never even heard. So why did the spell backfire? Why did Voldemort not die as a result of it? Why did Harry live? It is because Harry is not the only focus of the prophecy. He is not the only ONE with the power to vanquish the Dark Lord. Neville has that power.
I believe that Neville was also marked for death by Voldemort. It would not be too much of a stretch to believe that had Voldemort succeeded in killing Harry as a baby, he would have then tried to kill Neville, thus, eliminating both boys who had the potential to vanquish him. That, to me, is a mark, is it not? Also, in contrast to Harry, Neville was marked figuratively through the actions of Voldemort’s followers. How Neville cannot be marked emotionally by losing both parents to the Cruciatus Curse is beyond my comprehension. Dumbledore even states to Harry at the end of PS/SS:
If there is one thing Voldemort cannot understand, it is love. He didnt realize that love as powerful as your mother’s for you leaves its own mark. Not a scar, no visible sign . . . To have been loved so deeply even though the person who loved us is gone, will give us some protection forever. It is in your very skin. (pg. 299)
That Lily Potter loved her son more so than Alice Longbottom loves her son is just plain rubbish. Also, Alice Longbottom was an Auror, was she not? This to me suggests that she was a powerful witch. How do we know for sure she did not put some sort of charm/protection on Neville when he was a baby before she suffered the Cruciatus Curse? Furthermore, Dumbledore (he even admits this) is not always right. Consider this as well:
…There were still deep welts on his [Rons] forearms where the brain tentacles had wrapped around him. According to Madam Pomfrey, thoughts could leave deeper scarring than almost anything else…” (OotP, pg. 847)
That it is only Harry who was marked is where Dumbledore and the rest of us are mistaken and all of us misled, albeit brilliantly by Rowling. Neville IS marked.
Rowling recently stated that she was surprised that no one has asked her why Dumbledore did not kill or try to kill Voldemort in the scene in the Ministry of Magic at the end of OotP. She said that the reason Dumbledore gives Voldemort is NOT the real reason. Rowling further stated that Dumbledore knows something slightly more profound than that. And that is, in my opinion, that Voldemort’s soul now resides (albeit dormant) in Harry. Dumbledore did not kill Voldemort that night because he simply did not want to. And Voldemort called him on it (pg. 814). He knew by doing so it would kill Harry as well, and Dumbledore is not ready for that.
“I cared about you too much,” said Dumbledore simply. “I cared more for your happiness than your knowing the truth, more for your peace of mind than my plan, more for your life than the lives that might be lost if the plan failed. In other words, I acted exactly as Voldemort expects we fools who love to act.”(OotP, pg. 838).
Dumbledore did not kill Voldemort that night because he simply could not accept the fact that in order to kill him, he would have to kill Harry, too. Dumbledore would rather have risked innocent casualties by letting Voldemort live than to end Harry’s life. Dumbledore is in denial of the fact that Harry’s death is inevitable. Although he is powerful, he is flawed in his denial and in his hope for Harrys survival and, therefore, does not possess the power to vanquish the Dark Lord.
BUT HE WILL HAVE POWER THE DARK LORD KNOWS NOT
This is where it gets complicated as the prophecy is still talking about BOTH Harry AND Neville. This power that Trelawney speaks of is Harry’s capacity to love, his show of mercy to others who have wronged him, and his willingness to play hero as evidenced by his self-sacrificing actions. Rowling has repeatedly reminded her readers that it is Harry’s CHOICES that set him apart from Voldemort. In the end, Harry will commit the ultimate act of love — he will sacrifice himself to vanquish Voldemort.
As for Neville’s POWER THE DARK LORD KNOWS NOT it is the fact that Neville is even involved in the prophecy which adds the element of surprise to the mix. Voldemort thinks Harry is his equal as does everyone else. No one even suspects Neville at this point. Dumbledore dismisses him as the possible subject of the prophecy and what Dumbledore says is practically Gospel in the wizarding world. As to Neville;s specific power I do not know. I suspect that it will be his bravery. Up until now, who in the Gryffindor House is constantly portrayed as a weak, incompetent, Squib-like, scared little wizard?
Now, back to the prophecy:
AND EITHER MUST DIE AT THE HAND OF THE OTHER FOR NEITHER CAN LIVE WHILE THE OTHER SURVIVES
This is the way I see it:
AND EITHER [HARRY OR VOLDEMORT] MUST DIE AT THE HAND OF THE OTHER [NEVILLE] FOR NEITHER [HARRY NOR VOLDEMORT] CAN LIVE WHILE THE OTHER [NEVILLE] SURVIVES.
In a nutshell, Neville must kill both Harry and Voldemort. Harry AND Voldemort cannot live if Neville survives and Neville cannot live if Harry and Voldemort survive. Therefore, Harry and Voldemort must die at the hand of the OTHER. As long as Neville is alive, Voldemort and Harry are doomed. They are fated to die. If by chance, Neville dies before them, there is no hope for killing Voldemort (but I don’t think Rowling will go this route).
One major hint comes from Dumbledore himself when he is explaining the prophecy to Harry: ”[O]ne, of course, was you [Harry]. The other was Neville Longbottom.” (pg. 842). Sure I am picking at words here but, hey — if the shoe fits…
Even though Voldemort has a corporeal body now, both Harry’s and Voldemort’s soul are in one body: Harry’s. Eventually, there will come a time (Book 7) when they cannot exist together any longer. It is already getting more and more difficult for Harry every time Voldemort is near him or when Voldemort feels a strong emotion. Harry feels his scar is going to burst open and the pain he feels is agonizing. If Voldemort’s soul is removed from Harry, it will kill Harry in the process. Dumbledore knows this.
Now we come to the most important part and most overlooked part, I think, of Trelawney’s prophecy:
“THE ONE WITH THE POWER TO VANQUISH THE DARK LORD WILL BE BORN AS THE SEVENTH MONTH DIES…”
You may ask yourself why I think, out of the whole prophecy, that this repetitive phrase is important? It is because it is not repetitive at all. It is deliberate. Nothing Rowling does is redundant unless it is significant. Most people have analyzed this as the prophecy merely repeating itself. I do not see this being the case. When has Trelawney’s other prophesies ever repeated themselves at the end of it? (Someone correct me if I am wrong, but that has never been the case.) Rowling herself has said that she has worded the prophecy VERY carefully.
In repeating this simple phrase, Rowling intentionally made it possible for the prophecy to include BOTH Harry AND Neville as BOTH boys were born at the end of July. By repeating this, she seals Neville’s fate as being included in the prophecy [THE OTHER], not eliminated from it. These two phrases apply to both Harry AND Neville. In the beginning it states that:
THE ONE WITH THE POWER TO VANQUISH THE DARK LORD APPROACHES…BORN AS THE SEVENTH MONTH DIES…
And then at the end:
THE ONE WITH THE POWER TO VANQUISH THE DARK LORD WILL BE BORN AS THE SEVENTH MONTH DIES.
There are two boys; that is why this phrase is repeated and that is the significance of Rowling’s intentional repeat. Trelawney’s prophecy clearly states not that Harry OR Voldemort must die at the hand of the OTHER — it is that BOTH of them must die — for NEITHER can live while the OTHER survives. The only way to do this is for someone to kill Harry. Remember the CH theory? This creates a snag in the prophecy that everyone seems to focus on thereby dismissing Neville as THE ONE because ONLY the ONE can vanquish the Dark Lord. Well, that’s where Neville comes in. He is the “OTHER.”
Don’t get me wrong, Harry is the tragic hero. The series is entitled “Harry Potter and [fill in blank here].” Harry is the one who will choose to make the ultimate sacrifice out of love. Harry will eventually realize that his death is the only way to save the wizarding world from Voldemort. They cannot exist together. Neville, however, is also the hero, but in a different way. It is Neville who will do the deed, ending both Harry and Voldemort. Besides, Rowling put Neville in Gryffindor House for a reason. After all, what did Dumbledore say at the end of PS/SS?
There are all kinds of courage…It takes a great deal of bravery to stand up to our enemies, but just as much to stand up to our friends. I therefore award ten points to Mr. Neville Longbottom. (pg. 306)
Yes, yes, here Dumbledore was talking about how Neville tried to stop Harry, Ron and Hermione from sneaking out of the Gryffindor common room and he suffered the body bind curse at the reluctant hand of Hermione. It is the fact that he stood up to them at all which is important. I found it awfully suspicious at the end of PS/SS that Neville stole Harry’s thunder. This is subtle, yet significant. It was Neville, not Harry, who sealed the House Cup for the Gryffindors in their first year.
My suspicions about Neville and his importance to the series only increased with each passing book. There are many hints throughout all the books as to Neville’s significance. I will only note a few examples here that I picked up on as I am getting long and may have lost some readers in the process. One deals with Neville and the Sorting Hat:
When Neville Longbottom, the boy who kept losing his toad, was called, he fell over on his way to the stool. The hat took a long time to decide with Neville. (PS/SS, pg. 120)
Why this stuck out to me is because the Sorting Hat also took its time placing Harry, although those reasons are explained and completely different which I will not get into here. The Sorting Hat eventually placed Neville in Gryffindor — where the daring, nerve, and chivalry set them apart. Neville’s bravery is buried deep inside him. It is there, it is hidden, but he nonetheless possesses an enormous amount of it. He was put in Gryffindor for a reason.
The second example is the fact that Neville was, all along, using his father’s wand. This is significant because Mr. Ollivander states ”…you will never get such good results with another wizards wand” (PS/SS, pg. 84) and “the wand chooses the wizard” (pg. 85). When Neville gets his new wand in Book 6, I suspect he will be a very different and powerful wizard.
Third, is the importance of the Fidelius Charm:
“…involving the magical concealment of a secret inside a single, living soul. The information is hidden inside the chosen person, or Secret-Keeper, and is henceforth impossible to find — unless, of course, the Secret-Keeper chooses to divulge it…” (PoA, pg. 205)
I think that Neville is someone’s Secret-Keeper and his memory was altered to hide this fact even from himself because it was put on him when he was still a small child. I will only speculate that Neville is his parents’ Secret-Keeper. He is hiding something so powerful, that it must be kept hidden until he is ready to know it. I suspect it has to do with Voldemort’s demise. The fact that his mother keeps passing messages to Neville on Drooble’s Blowing Gum wrappers is very noteworthy. What those messages say I do not know but it may have something to do with the fact that Neville is possibly his parents’, if not someone else’s, Secret-Keeper. His grandmother told Neville to ”put that wrapper in the bin, she must have given you enough of them to paper your bedroom by now…” (OotP, pg. 515). Neville did not do this, but instead slipped the wrapper in his pocket. (I find it awfully suspicious that Rowling herself has gum wrappers littering her Web page).
I also think that Mrs. Longbottom has moments of clarity and this is when she passes messages to her son. But, he is the only one who knows this. I think Neville’s mother will eventually get better but for now, she is safer hiding out at St. Mungo’s.
I don’t know who told him, (maybe his mother via the gum wrappers) but I think Neville knows something that maybe even Dumbledore himself does not. This is only speculation because there is no evidence to support this except the fact that Neville vehemently insisted that Harry should not pick up the prophecy containing his name (OotP, pg. 780). Also, Neville was uncharacteristically vocal when he and Harry were confronted by the Death Eaters at the end of OotP insisting that Harry not turn over the prophecy to them (pp. 793, 800). Something inside Neville was stirred at that moment and his fighting instincts kicked in. Think about it, Neville was the last one standing besides Harry out of the six students who went to save Sirius that night. Even the almighty Hermione went down fighting. Neville lost his fathers wand in the process, nevertheless he was still standing. Coincidence?
My initial theory about Neville and his more valuable role was finally confirmed when I read Trelawney’s prophecy at the end of OotP and also what was written on the prophecy label itself (OotP, pg. 780):
And (?) Harry Potter
Now, go back and read the prophecy in its entirety and you will see my analysis fits. The wording of the last line in the prophecy seals Neville’s fate. Harry may have the legendary lightning bolt scar, but it’s all about Neville, loyal friend and thunder stealer.