Chapter 4 : A Moment For the Family
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Neville Longbottom regretted the words as soon as they spilled out of his mouth. The last thing he wanted to do after learning that a student, a family friend, had perished was to be the one to alert the parents. After being his roommate for six years he had seen Harry cry, he’d seen him wake up screaming in the middle of the night, and the last thing that he wanted to do was cause the man even more pain. There was little that he could do about it though, there weren’t people exactly people lining up to be the one to go and deliver news like this.
Making his way out of the cool corridors that filled the dungeons onto the ground floor he could not help but to wonder how the boy had been killed in the first place. Although the investigation hadn’t even begun it was clear that it had to have been a spell or some sort of potion that had killed Albus as there hadn’t been any obvious signs of trauma.
The fact that it had to have been someone else in the castle, most likely a fellow Slytherin made it even harder to take. Bitterly Neville wished that Albus had been sorted into Gryffindor like his brother had, he doubted this would have happened had that been the case. Sighing he realized that he had to have been getting ahead of himself, for all they knew Albus had died of something completely random.
Reaching the headmistress’ office he headed to the fireplace, the only one in the school that was hooked directly to the floo network. Taking a deep breath Neville tried to come up with something to say, some way to make it easier for the couple he was about to meet to take but he knew it was impossible. He nicked a handful of floo powder and took a step into the fireplace, hesitating for a moment before he threw down the green powder.
“Potter residence.” He stated clearly, keeping his eyes closed as he spun about, pulling them open as he found himself settled on the inside of the white fireplace that he’d traveled through quite a bit in the past. Taking a step out into the living room he paused for a moment, finding it quite odd to be in someone else’s home unannounced in the middle of the night. He hadn’t known how else to get them over to the school so quickly though, as most didn’t answer owls in the middle of the night.
“Is someone there?” A voice called, several thuds following the voice. Neville was almost thankful that his arrival had managed to wake the sleeping parents, as it made things much easier on his part.
“It’s me, Neville.” He replied, listening as the footsteps that obviously belonged to Harry came closer and closer. After a moment he was standing before the famous Harry Potter, but his age and the time of day making him looking like anything but a hero. He looked awfully surprised to see the company, especially seeing as it was going on three in the morning.
“Did something happen at school?” Harry questioned, clearly jumping to the worst conclusions. Neville wished that he could tell him not to worry, that nothing bad had happened, but he couldn’t lie like that to someone he’d known for so long.
“Is Ginny around, you should have her come down.” Neville stated, trying his best not to let any sort of emotions slip out into the tone of his voice. He realized now that he couldn’t dare tell them before they arrived at the school or it was be all but impossible to get them there. And while it would be more comfortable to just deal with it all in their home it was hardly practical.
“Yeah.” Harry muttered, making his way back over to the stairs. “Ginny, it’s Neville.” He called, making it clear that she was already awake and simply waiting upstairs. It only took a moment for the red head to come padding down the stairs, confusion evident on her face.
“What’s going on?” She questioned, knowing that nothing good could be happening this late at night.
“We should probably head back to the school.” Neville instructed, realizing that this only caused the two parents to get more concerned. It was one thing for someone from the school all three of their children were attending to come to their house in the middle of the night, but dragging them back was another thing.
“Neville, what happened?” Ginny asked; worry clear in her voice. As much as he wanted to the Professor couldn’t bear to tell her, not yet.
“Let’s just head over to the school.” He repeated, hoping that they would understand that he wasn’t going to give them anything while they were standing in the middle of their living room. Taking a pinch of the power off of their mantle he figured that he would lead by example and stepped back where he’d just come from
“Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry- Headmistress office!” Neville called, quickly disappearing into the jumble of fireplaces, watching as he flew by each empty one until he reached the school. He stepped out, brushing himself off before moving out of the way to make way for the others. They tumbled out only moments later, and clearly waiting for the information was getting to them.
“Just tell us what happened.” Harry demanded, clearly trying hard not to raise his voice in his frustration. Neville nodded, and indicated that they might want to take a seat before he spoke. Knowing that it was no much too late to get out of it, he knew that he just needed to get the words out.
“I am so sorry-Albus is dead.” He explained, the words feeling odd in his mouth. Both of the faces of the parents instantly broke and for a moment there were no tears. But this wasn't a time for tears, as neither parent seemed to be able to accept the information. Ginny stared blankly at Neville for a moment, it was as though he was speaking some sort of foreign language.
"You're joking." Ginny stated, her voice more raw than Neville had heard in his life. As much as he wished that it was true, it wasn't and the man shook his head. As realization hit Ginny she turned and faced Harry, pulling him tight. Harry tried to comfort his wife, but it was clear that he wasn’t doing much better.
Watching such a raw and personal moment was hard for Neville, the heartbreak that they were experiencing was simply impossible to imagine. Twisting his hands around he watched as Harry soothed his wife, shushing her as though she was a little child. The tears had yet to come and he was sure that the worse was only on its way. After a moment be pulled his eyes away and glanced around the room knowing that it was a moment for the family, not for him.
Not bothering to knock, knowing that even McGonagall wouldn’t have much company at this time of the night, Lily pushed the door open and took a step into her office. It wasn’t a place that she’d frequented before, she’d only been called in a time or two and mostly for stupid things.
The room was almost the same as the last time that she’d been there if she remembered correctly. The desk was centered in the room and covered in an assortment of parchment and books, several of them open, making it clear that McGonagall had been working late. Portraits were hung in various places on the stone walls, mostly the older Head’s of the school, although there appeared to be a few other historical figures.
The room it was just what she’d been expecting, the scene however was not what she’d been expecting. She had been expecting to see her two brothers, maybe one had beat the other up, or something equally as silly that required her to be pulled in. Even a brawl among her cousins would make more sense, as the one thing that hadn’t even crossed her mind was the arrival of her parents.
As she took a step into the room her parents turned to face her and the tears were clear on their faces, causing Lily’s face to scrunch up in confusion. Her parents, especially her father, had never been upset in her entire life and she couldn’t reason out why her parents were sitting in this room with tearstained faces in the middle of the night.
“Was it Nana?” Lily questioned, knowing that couldn’t have been right but not knowing what else it could have been. Her grandmother was old, practically ancient, and her passing was something that was going to happen one of these days. It couldn’t possibly be her though, as that would have caused all of her cousins to be called down, not just her.
“No sweetie.” Her mother replied, moving to meet her daughter and pull her into a hug. For a moment there were no words said, and Lily stood in confusion as her mum held her tight, almost as though she feared that she was going to disappear at any moment.
“Dad, what’s going on?” She wondered, pulling away from her mother and looking to the parent that she knew would give her the answers that she was looking for. Her father looked over to her, his eyes showing some emotion that made him almost appear to be broken. He didn’t speak, and as her imagination began to run wild Lily became awfully scared of the words that she knew would have to come out at some point. Whatever had happened was bad, very bad.
“Lily, Albus is dead.” Her father muttered the words without any emotion almost as though they were not true. As soon as the words escaped his mouth, her mother pulled her tight and began to cry even more.
When the three words finally clicked everything in Lily’s life shattered to the floor and she held her mother tight. The tears never came.
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