People often ask me which of my stories I consider most heroic. They always, always ask about standing up to Lord Voldemort at the Battle of Hogwarts, when he held me down and put the burning Sorting Hat on me. I have to shake my head and tell them that I don’t consider that my most heroic moment. I was terrified, and all that kept going through my mind was, “I’m going to die in front of all my classmates.” It was such a banal thought. When I felt the Sword of Gryffindor bang into my head, I knew what I had to do, but I don’t think that made me a hero. Cutting the head off that snake drove Lord Voldemort mad, even more so when everyone else rejoined the fight.
That’s the moment that a lot of the reporters point to. Sure, it’s what I got my Order of Merlin for, but I know that there was a more heroic moment.
The savvier ones dig deeper, into my first year, when I stood up to Harry, Ron and Hermione as they were sneaking out of the Gryffindor Common room. They feel that was the first time that I stood up for myself, and that put me on a path to greatness. I’m just a Herbology professor; I’m no great hero because I once confronted classmates. They’re missing the point.
One writer thought that the moment was when I joined Harry, Ron, Luna, Hermione and Luna in the Battle of the Department of Mysteries. His information was very good and I wonder if he talked to Lucius Malfoy in Azkaban. He described me quite well: bumbling and inefficient, but willing to die to help his friends. I know that I wasn’t an asset to that fight, but I showed up and tried. The writer thought that showing up and trying, even when I knew I wasn’t a good duelist was the event that pushed me on. It made me realize that I could help my friends, and that I needed help still with Defence Against the Dark Arts; but, it’s not what made me a hero.
Luna’s father wrote in the Quibbler that my taking the reins of Dumbledore’s Army in my seventh year made me a hero. Again, I was just doing what needed to be done. It doesn’t make me a hero. It only makes me someone who stood up and said, “I’ve had enough; this stops now.” Xenophilius tried to convince me that’s what makes a hero: the guts to stand up for what’s right and take your punishment. He tried in vain to make his point. I know that it wasn’t then that I felt heroic. I just felt angry. I wanted the Carrows to be stopped; I wanted Snape gone as Headmaster. Being angry doesn’t make someone a hero.
I merely did what was necessary, what was right. The heroes from those days are the martyrs, the ones that gave their lives for what they believed in: Fred Weasley, Severus Snape, Nymphadora Tonks, Remus Lupin, Colin Creevey, and even Dobby. They were the true heroes. All the others whose names I didn’t remember; they’re the ones that made the difference in those days.
No, none of those events are what made feel like a hero.
What makes me feel like a hero is coming home to my wife after a long day of teaching. When she smiles at me and greets me with a kiss, even if her day at the bar has been hectic. She makes me feel loved; she makes me feel needed. I know I’m her hero and that’s all that matters now.