The Underground Lake #3: The Lost Day, Part 3: The Longbottom Connection
As I mentioned earlier, Voldemort is a calculating and evil genius. Based on what he has heard of the Prophecy, he wouldn’t move without a plan. That brings us to the rogue element: Neville Longbottom. Neville has stood on the periphery for most of books 1-4, but he leapt right into the fray in OotP. He had always been portrayed as meek and mild, but as a baby, he – like Harry – was considered a threat to Voldemort. Enter the Lestranges. Voldemort is good, but not even he can be in two places at once. There is no evidence to suggest that the Longbottoms, legendary auror and popular wizarding family, were sent into hiding like the Potters (powerful wizards, yes, but only 22 years old at the time of their death). Since Dumbledore hears the Prophecy, the whole Prophecy, he knows that whichever child Voldemort attacks first will be the “chosen one.” Comparing the two choices, it is not surprising that Harry is selected, due to the half-blood connection that he and Voldemort share. But Voldemort needs his bases covered. He dispatches his most loyal followers, the Lestranges, to stake-out the Longbottoms in case something goes wrong. If Voldemort succeeds and the Prophecy is fulfilled (in Voldemort’s point-of-view), the Longbottoms need not die. Remember, Voldemort has said many times that he had no true desire to kill Lily. I would put the Longbottoms down on that list as worthy adversaries that need only die in the field of battle and not be needlessly murdered. However, should he kill Harry and it turns out Harry was not “the one,” the Lestranges could detain the Longbottoms until Voldemort arrived and finished the job.
According to Goblet of Fire, after Voldemort’s fall, the lost and confused Death Eaters went on an insane rampage deciding who would succeed their fallen master. The event that incited the fall of the Death Eaters was the torture of the Longbottoms. The Lestranges were the only followers of Voldemort who willingly tried to bring him back. In GoF, it says in “The Pensieve,” that “shortly after Voldemort’s fall from power,” the Longbottoms were attacked. It is my opinion the Lestranges tried everything they knew to try and bring Voldemort back. Since the last and only lead they had were the Longbottoms, they went to them for information. They tortured Frank mercilessly and then tortured Alice to get Frank to talk. When they refused, rather than kill them, the Lestranges proceeded to maim and torture them into insanity.
But there is a bigger question here: why not just kill the Longbottoms and Neville? Bellatrix is crazy. Let’s make that clear. If she were willing to murder her cousin Sirius (and yes folks, pretty sure Sirius is dead), the Longbottoms would be of no consequence. There has to be a reason. I believe that the attack on the Longbottoms happened sometime around when Sirius was captured. Those three days (Monday – Potters and Voldemort killed, Tuesday – Harry sent to the Dursleys, and Wednesday – Sirius apprehended) rely on information sifted at a careful pace. The Lestranges (aided with or without the help of Barty Crouch Jr. – we still don’t know if he was really there or not) could have easily gotten word while on stake-out that Voldemort was dead, regrouped and tried to find him, ran into a dead end, then went to the only lead they had: the Longbottoms. They couldn’t kill them, obviously, for two reasons:
- That was a job for their master. It might have to be done delicately.
- As their only lead, killing them might have repercussions that they wouldn’t know about, like making it more difficult for Voldemort to return.
As for Neville: is he crazy or just unlucky? I have to go with unlucky. I don’t believe he was tortured or that his family put memory charms on him. I think he’s just a tweaked out kid. He never really seems to have any real friends (Harry and Ron are together, and Dean and Seamus are together). The only family he has does nothing but constantly remind him of his parents and how wonderful and well-liked they were. It’s classic ‘standing-in-your-parent’s-shadow’ syndrome. You’re father is a legendary auror. Naturally one assumes that early on, you will have an extreme aptitude for magic. But his entire life, Neville’s grandmother does nothing but remind him of how he’s not as good as his parents; how he should be better. He doesn’t even have his own wand. He has his father’s wand; obviously because he should be able to wield it, thus claiming and proving his birthright. I think Neville’s whole problem is that he has no confidence. But one thing is for certain: Neville will prove himself or die trying. My vote goes to the latter.