What If Neville Was the Chosen One? (Trailer)
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.” (OotP 774)
In Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, the reason as to why Lord Voldemort appeared at the Potters’ home in Godric’s Hollow on October 31, 1981, is revealed to both Harry Potter and the readers. We learn that a prophecy was created by none other than Hogwarts Divination teacher Professor Trelawney in which she predicted the coming of “the one with the power to vanquish the Dark Lord”: Harry Potter himself. Right? Not entirely:
‘The odd thing, Harry,’ [Dumbledore] said softly, ‘is that it may not have meant you at all. Sybill’s prophecy could have applied to two wizard boys, both born at the end of July that year, both of whom had parents in the Order of the Phoenix, both sets of parents having narrowly escaped Voldemort three times. One, of course, was you. The other was Neville Longbottom.’” (OotP 774-775)
Of course, we learn from Dumbledore that Lord Voldemort himself decided that Harry was the one to whom the prophecy was referring, thereby marking him as his equal. In killing Lily as she stood before baby Harry, Voldemort provided Harry with that power which Voldemort knows not: the protection of love.
Allow us to ponder as Harry does in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince:
‘Had Voldemort chosen Neville, it would be Neville sitting opposite Harry bearing the lightning-shaped scar and the weight of the prophecy . . . or would it? Would Neville’s mother have died to save him, as Lily had died for Harry? Surely she would . . . but what if she had been unable to stand between her son and Voldemort? Would there, then, have been no ‘Chosen One’ at all?’” (HBP 116)
What if Voldemort had chosen Neville? It could be argued that Voldemort had at least considered the possibility that Neville could grow to be the one to whom the prophecy was referring. After all, we eventually learn that Voldemort’s most loyal Death Eater Bellatrix Lestrange and Barty Crouch, Jr. used the Cruciatus Curse on Neville’s parents, Frank and Alice. They were tortured to the point of insanity for information which we can presume to be about the Order of the Phoenix. But what if it wasn’t?
What if Bellatrix and Barty Crouch, Jr. had been torturing Frank and Alice Longbottom for information about their son? We can only guess, by knowing that Neville was unharmed, that he was not there when the event took place and was most likely under the protective and watchful eye of his grandmother.
If that had been the case or if Voldemort himself had shown up to confront the Longbottom’s, how would that have affected the story told to us by J.K. Rowling? Would Voldemort still be the main antagonist, or would Neville be faced with the bullying of Draco Malfoy, the tortuous taunts of Bellatrix, and the threat of Voldemort to boot? Exactly how would the story change? After all in re-reading the Potter series, a lot of similarities exist between Neville and Harry almost as much as they do between Harry and Voldemort – one of Voldemort’s reasons for picking Harry in the first place.
Neville, throughout the course of the books, forms the silver trio consisting of him, Ginny Weasley, and Luna Lovegood. What’s intriguing about it is how it mirrors the golden trio, consisting of a possible Chosen One, a Weasley, and a character known for her intelligence; though Luna’s way of thinking differs from Hermione’s logic, Luna’s knowledge, wisdom, and blunt honesty is exactly what is needed at times. Even the majority of the individual book plots told throughout the series show Neville to be involved in some way, whether directly or indirectly and often by misfortunate accident. From riding brooms that have a mind of their own to losing passwords that allow Sirius access to Gryffindor Tower to kill Pettigrew, from fighting alongside Dumbledore’s Army to eventually leading it, the evolution of Neville Longbottom’s character shows his development from a clumsy and forgetful first year in search of his lost toad to a young man eventually destroying the final Horcrux, thereby allowing Harry to successfully defeat Voldemort once and for all. So whilst he may not be the one whom Voldemort chose, there is no doubt that Neville Longbottom does have what it takes to be the Chosen One.