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Phoenix in the Ashes by HPFF United
Chapter 15 : Pushover to Gryffindor
 
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Neville yawned, placing a chubby, pale hand in front of his mouth as he continued to crawl along on his hands and his knees through the Gryffindor Common Room as it emptied of students. Trevor had apparently decided he'd wanted to do more than sit in Neville's pocket, and had leaped out, ever ready for any sort of excitement.

He, however, was certainly not on the same brain wavelength as his toad. He was still ashamed from losing all those points for Gryffindor the other night, when he had snuck out after Harry and Hermione. It wasn't the fact that now most of his house now despised him, or the fact that he'd gotten into trouble that had made him feel bad- honestly, it wasn't that at all.

It was the fact that he'd tried to help but had only made things worse that ashamed him.

He'd always been taught by Gran to be strong, remember that his parents had been tortured and he should be strong enough that they would be proud of him. But how was he supposed to be strong when he couldn't even manage the courage to stand up for himself against Malfoy, or to try and convince Harry not to go and do something reckless? It truly made him feel like anything but a Gryffindor, and his suspicions that the Sorting Hat had been broken had only deepened the logic he found in his own conclusion.

Neville bumped his dark head against the bottom of an armchair as he patiently continued the search for Trevor when voices caused him to pause. He'd been nearly positive that he was the only one still down in the common room, but as his hands finally closed around the amphibian before straightening up, he found that his assumption had been wrong. He was now joined by three of his classmates.

The first year narrowed his eyes slightly at his Harry, Ron, and Hermione before wasting no time in telling them that they couldn't go out and that they'd get in trouble. He didn't want any more disgrace to come to their house.

Neville frowned as Harry began trying to tell him that they needed to do this. He hadn't expected them to bother trying diplomacy; he'd only thought that they would walk right past him, not even listening to Neville, but now that they were negotiating with him, he knew what he had to do.

He steeled his nerves, fists clenching slightly- not in anger, but instead in frustration at the lack of communication before he realized he had to do something about it. Springing to the portrait hole and standing in front of it to block their exit, Neville replied, "I'll- I'll fight you!" The words gave him a feeling that he never though his hollow courage could have, and he stood up a bit taller as he glanced at them, still a bit friendly but also very firm in his words.

It was strange, this feeling, and to think that they had been telling him to stand up for himself all this time! He felt as if he could take a hundred Malfoys now, a million taunts and jeers directed at him, but Neville knew that standing up to his friends was a different matter than standing up to his enemy. Both required courage, but it was definitely harder to stand up to your friends, even if you were only trying to protect them, which he was.

His pale cheeks flushed, jaw set rigid and determined as he continued to wait for them to challenge him, continued to stand there in front of the portrait hole. He was about to take a step forward to them, to remind them, Hermione especially, that rule-breaking would certainly do them no good, but suddenly Hermione raised her wand and muttered a spell.

Before he had time to register what was going on, his arms sprung to his sides, and his feet came together, one still in the air before a feeling of stiffness washed over him, and he fell to the carpet dully. He was horrified, horrified at what they'd done, and he let them know it with his eyes, the only part of him that he found he could move.

But even as the three continued out the portrait hole, it wasn't the familiar feeling of failure that ran through Neville's mind as he lay there. No, even though he'd failed, he wasn't ashamed this time, in fact, he was quite the opposite.

Neville was proud.

Proud of the fact that he'd stood up to someone for once, prouder in the fact that it was his friends who he'd tried to stop. And although they had left him on the floor, looking like a frozen, one-legged duck with his leg half up, he was still proud despite the awkward position he'd been left in.

It was alright that they hadn't really listened. The thing that made this time special was that Neville had actually tried to stop them, and although it hadn't worked, it was a start, a start to finding himself. Neville the pushover was of no more. From this day, he was strong.

He was a true Gryffindor at last.

A/N: Quote from page 272 of the American Version of Sorcerer's Stone


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