Neville and Luna: The Ship That Should Have Been
Abstract: The Neville/Luna relationship does not get nearly enough love! J.K. Rowling seems to have inadvertently written this pairing, having debunked the rumor that the two characters would get together in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince in her website’s “Rumours” section only to later admit that she could “see them getting together” after Deathly Hallows was released. I make the case for why Neville and Luna should have ended up together and show how the books seemed to be leading up to that all along.
Let me introduce myself. I am hpboy13, and I have been the Internet’s biggest proponent of the Neville/Luna ship. In fact, if you google “Neville/Luna ship,” my 2007 essay on the subject is the first result. And whatever nasty rumors you may have all heard to the contrary, they totally do end up together, despite what J.K. Rowling says!
In the deluge of interviews that immediately followed the release of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows back in July 2007, there was so much new information released that some of it got glossed over. One of these nuggets is Jo’s admission about Neville and Luna. According to her Dateline interview on July 29, 2007, “As time passed and she watched her characters mature, Rowling started to ‘feel a bit of a pull’ between the unlikely pair.”
Excellent, so that means they end up together after all! Um… not quite. Apparently, Jo didn’t have the guts to confirm it. In that same interview, she said she left the question of their relationship open because doing otherwise would have “felt too neat.”
Meh. Seems like a copout to me – if Harry, Ron, Hermione, and Ginny can all get together, I don’t see how putting Neville and Luna together makes it that much neater. But if Jo is willing to let us decide, that works for me – I decided long ago that they end up together.
But then, a mere day later, everything went down the drain! At a Bloomsbury Live Chat, Jo said out of the blue that Neville marries Hannah Abbott (a.k.a. generic character #13) and Luna marries some dude named Rolf Scamander, who isn’t even in the books! What the heck?!? Unacceptable!
This felt like a total copout to me, and for the first time in six years of being a fan, I felt that Jo Rowling was legitimately wrong about her characters. Maybe she didn’t intend for it to happen, but the “bit of a pull” between Neville and Luna had developed over the course of three books into an epic gravitation! Now, I invite you to join me in looking back at the books in order to see why Neville and Luna should have ended up together in Deathly Hallows.
Let us rewind back to early 2007, before the last book had come out. We now knew, after Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, that in the end, we would have Ron and Hermione together and Harry and Ginny together. (And despite some “delusional” Harmony shippers, that was laid to rest once Jo said, “We do now know that it’s Ron and Hermione.”) And where would that leave Neville and Luna? Since they are both unpopular, they are shunned by the popular crowd. For example, look at how Romilda Vane treats them, telling Harry, “You don’t have to sit with them.” As the two outcasts at Hogwarts, they are perfectly positioned to start up a romance.
Now, Jo Rowling had debunked a rumor on her site about Neville and Luna getting together in Half-Blood Prince before that book came out:
Luna and Neville will hook up in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
The Luna/Neville shippers are much less vehement and scary than the Harry/Hermione, Ron/Hermione tribes, so I hope I won’t receive too much hate mail for quashing this rumour. I see Neville and Luna as very different kinds of people and while they share a certain isolation within Hogwarts, I don’t think that’s enough to foster true love – friendship, perhaps, although I think that Neville would always find Luna’s wilder flights of fancy alarming.
And indeed, they don’t get together in Half-Blood Prince. However, what was going to happen to them in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows was a whole other story! While this quote might appear to be the downfall of a very fun ship, it didn’t really faze anyone, and I still thought it was possible that they would end up together. Jo said that Neville and Luna are very different people – so what? Ron and Hermione are two completely different people, yet Jo stuck them together. James and Lily were polar opposites, yet they ended up together. Remember the saying “opposites attract”? I think it applies.
Jo says that the isolation they share isn’t enough to foster true love, and I agree. If that was all we had to go on, this would be a very feeble theory indeed. However, by the end of Half-Blood Prince, they share much more than isolation. They have fought in the Ministry together, in the Hogwarts battle, they’ve been through thick and thin together, showing that they share much more than isolation by this point.
They also share the fact that they don’t have a mother – in a sense. Luna’s mother died when Luna was nine years old. Neville’s parents are still alive, but they’re as good as dead considering they barely recognize him. I think it would be really sweet if they found solace in each other. They can understand each other much better thanks to this shared characteristic.
Jo also said that Neville would find Luna’s flights of fantasy alarming – well, most people would. But so what? Jo says he’d only find her wilder flights of fantasy alarming – not her regular ones. I’m sure that Ron also finds Hermione alarming at times (more specifically, at times of tests), and Harry finds Ginny alarming when she’s mad (Bat-Bogey Hex, anyone?). Most couples are alarmed by each other now and then. Look how Mr. Weasley cowers in front of Mrs. Weasley – and what a successful relationship they have. So now that we’ve seen that this quote isn’t a reason to lose all hope, let’s continue with the rest of the essay!
If one looks at the excerpts from Books 5 and 6, you can clearly see hints of the relationship beginning to emerge. While lacking the “anvil-sized hints” that Ron/Hermione had, there was enough evidence to build a solid case for this relationship. So let’s go back to the beginning, when we meet Luna for the first time, in the chapter appropriately titled “Luna Lovegood”:
Neville chuckled. Luna turned her pale eyes upon him instead.
‘And I don’t know who you are.’
‘I’m nobody,’ said Neville hurriedly.” (OotP 185–6)
Luna Lovegood’s popping eyes appeared over the top of her upside-down magazine again, watching what Neville was doing.” (OotP 187)
‘Excuse me,’ said Luna; her voice had suddenly lost its dreamy quality. ‘My father’s the editor.’ (OotP 193)
Right away, we are presented with our first clues. In the first quote, Neville seems to forget his name in front of Luna, saying, “I’m nobody.” This is a classic in movies and TV – when someone develops feelings for someone else, they immediately forget their own name. We even have a precedent for this in the Harry Potter books. In Chamber of Secrets, Ginny not only never utters her name to introduce herself to Harry, but she practically forgets how to talk when Harry is around. So it would appear that Neville is a bit enchanted by Luna.
And we see at least some interest on Luna’s part since she pauses in reading The Quibbler, something she appears to be quite engrossed in, to look at Neville. And we know how hard it is to tear Luna’s attention away from The Quibbler; she even reads it during the start-of-term feast!
But the strongest bit of evidence comes from the third quote. When Hermione insults her (or her father, to be more exact), Luna immediately loses that “dreamy quality,” something we’ve very rarely seen her do, and defends herself. And there is another example of Luna trying to save face in front of Neville, less than 150 pages later, when Hermione scoffs at the idea of heliopaths.
‘They don’t exist, Neville,’ said Hermione tartly.
‘Oh yes they do!’ said Luna angrily.” (OotP 345)
Once again, this anger seems distinctly un-Luna-like. I don’t think she is ever again described as saying something angrily. Also, why is her anger so sudden? People have disbelieved her and her wild claims, made fun of her, nicked her stuff on many occasions, and yet this never gets a rise out of her. Why now? I think the answer is easily explained. For the second time, Hermione has made her look dotty in front of Neville, the boy she is interested in. If someone kept making you look like a fool in front of your crush, would you be overly happy with them? Nope, didn’t think so. And Luna is one of the calmer characters in the Potterverse. Interesting how she only gets angry when she’s made to look dumb in front of Neville. When Rita Skeeter insults her father’s magazine much more directly than Hermione in Chapter 25 of Order of the Phoenix, she barely reacts.
‘I’m guessing your father runs some stupid little village newsletter?’ [Rita] said. […] ‘No,’ said Luna, dipping her onion back into her gillywater, ‘he’s the editor of The Quibbler.’
Rita snorted so loudly that people at a nearby table looked around in alarm.
‘”Important stories he thinks the public needs to know”?’ [Rita] said witheringly. ‘I could manure my garden with the contents of that rag.'” (568)
Luna calmly sips her drink as Rita insults her father’s magazine as best she can. This is a rather big contrast to the rise Hermione got out of her! The only conclusion I can glean from this is that she likes Neville; otherwise, it makes no sense for her to get angry at Hermione all of a sudden while staying perfectly calm when insulted by Rita in Neville’s absence.
We get a very cute Neville/Luna moment toward the end of Order of the Phoenix, in Chapter 33 (“Fight and Flight”). After getting rid of Umbridge and the centaurs, Harry, Ron, Hermione, and Ginny are arguing over how many Thestrals they need to go to the Ministry to rescue Sirius. They go from two to three to four Thestrals. That leaves out Neville and Luna. And instead of saying “five” to include herself, Luna says, “There are six of us,” which means she clearly wants Neville along. It looks like the two of them have grown quite close over the course of the year.
And sure enough, when we run into them again aboard the Hogwarts Express in Half-Blood Prince, Neville and Luna are together… and alone. This is a big step up from a year ago when Neville didn’t even want to share a compartment with Luna. Now, they seem at ease with each other, with Luna “displaying her knack for embarrassing honesty” and Neville conversing quite comfortably. So at the very least, their relationship had grown to a close friendship, but all the true shippers know that it was more!
Unfortunately, there is so much going on in Half-Blood Prince we don’t really get to see much of Neville or Luna for a while. But then Slughorn’s Christmas party rolls around, and Harry comes up with the idea to go with Luna. And her reaction to his invitation is very interesting. At first, Luna is surprised and doesn’t show much enthusiasm. But then Harry clarified that they would just be going as friends (since he only wants Ginny as a real date and is desperate to become “unavailable” before Romilda Vane seizes her chance to ask him, or even worse, spikes his drink with love potion!).
‘Oh, no, I’d love to go with you as friends!’ said Luna.” (311)
Note that Luna doesn’t look happy or anything when Harry asks her out, yet she’s perfectly happy to go with him as friends to Slughorn’s party. Why would she like to go as friends but not as a date? Because she likes Neville! And she isn’t the type to go with someone to inspire jealousy like Hermione is. So Luna is perfectly willing to go with a friend and have fun at a party, as long as it’s not romantic.
So after two books, it should be clear that Neville and Luna have feelings for each other and are perfectly poised to act on them in Deathly Hallows. We even get one last quote about them in Half-Blood Prince, during Dumbledore’s funeral (which seemed to be something of a roll call for the couples of the series).
Harry saw Neville being helped into a seat by Luna.” (642)
Everybody with me: Aaaawwwwwwwww.
So upon reading Deathly Hallows, I expected Neville and Luna to end up together, just as I expected Ron and Hermione to end up together. But then, Neville is MIA for the first three-fourths of the book, and we only get passing glimpses of Luna. My shipper heart bled.
However, in Chapter 29 (“The Lost Diadem”), we finally meet Neville, and the story he tells us seems almost like a call to fan fiction writers. He tells a thrilling story of how Neville and Luna, together with Ginny, brought back Dumbledore’s Army and led a resistance against Snape’s regime at Hogwarts. Unfortunately, this was cut short when Luna was taken by Death Eaters at Christmas. But I can imagine Neville and Luna having clandestine meetings about the DA, and perhaps sharing a romantic moment now and then…
And it gets even better! When the trio assures Neville that Luna is all right, he replies, “Yeah, I know, she managed to get a message to me.” Again, aawwww! She cares about him and contacts him to let him know she’s okay, so he won’t worry about her, and is probably taking a huge risk by doing so. Again, this is just begging to be made into a sappy fan fic, with Neville angsting about Luna until she contacts him, and then he is flooded with relief and happiness once she does. It would also be a good moment to confess their feelings for each other… but I digress.
In any case, Neville sends for Luna right away when he finds the trio, and she shows up “happily.” And that is really it for Neville/Luna in the books since everyone gets caught up in the Battle of Hogwarts and whatnot. But at this point, if reading the books with the right perspective, one can clearly see that Neville and Luna are an emerging couple – even if my fan-fic fantasies of them during Book 7 are not true, they can finally get together afterward. After all, nowhere in the epilogue is Luna even mentioned, nor is any wife of Neville’s, so I reasonably assumed that they ended up together. And honestly, I’m going to stick by that. Jo Rowling’s throwaway remarks about random characters Neville and Luna married just don’t ring true in my mind. And nothing in the canon contradicts that; rather, the canon supports that, as Jo herself admitted. So in my head and in my fan fiction, Neville and Luna end up together and live happily ever after. The end.