Not how it was supposed to be.
Hermione lay in her bed at the private Muggle hospital that her parents had brought her to. They had been with her for the last two hours. She watched them leave her room to go and eat. She tried to relax. The problem with that was that when she relaxed, her mind always wandered back to what was now universally referred to simply as The Battle.
She recalled the final confrontation. The two forces were arrayed against each other in the ruins of Hogwarts Castle. Voldemort was offering another chance for them to surrender. Hermione stood next to Harry in a line of students. Neville, Katie, Ginny, Dean, Seamus, Lavender and about twenty others. The rest of the students, staff, members of the Order and others were gathered behind them. Ron was not there, Ron was dead. She had witnessed with her own eyes the Death Eater called Scabior hit him with the green light of the killing curse. She had repaid the man with his own medicine. She, Hermione Granger had killed. The thought of it now sickened her.
“If you will not surrender, I offer Harry Potter the chance to save your lives. Face me, Potter. Alone! And when you are dead I will not kill your supporters.” It was Ginny who replied. She took a step out of the ranks,
“You still don’t get it do you, Tom. After all that’s happened today, you still don’t get it. You listen to me Tom Riddle. This is no longer about you and Harry. I would be here even if Harry wasn’t. This is about right and wrong. Do your supporters know about the Chamber of Secrets? Give it up Tom, because I have a premonition that while many of us will die, so will you. Neville has cut off the head of your snake and you are as vulnerable as anyone else.”
“A brave speech. But it changes nothing. Step out Harry Potter. Face me, now.” Hermione had felt Harry tense beside her. He’s going to do it, she had thought. She did not look at him but her hand found his and she squeezed gently. Out of the side of her mouth she had said,
“Harry, I love you my brother.” He returned the squeeze and stepped forward. The duel began and five minutes later Harry died. The silence was deafening. Voldemort turned to face his followers in triumph and was about to order the slaughter to begin, when there was a gasp from the crowd. Turning back he saw Neville Longbottom walking slowly towards him. They had all heard Hermione shout. “NO NEVILLE! STOP! It’s over, he’s won. Please don’t…” she had trailed off into silence and tears, not seeing the ferocious look that Ginny was directing at her. Neville kept walking, his face impassive.
Voldemort raised his wand, “You should have listened to her Longbottom. AVADA KEDAVRA.” Every person present saw the green light hit Neville squarely in the chest. Gasps of disbelief rang out as Neville staggered… and kept on walking. He raised his own wand and cast a non-verbal curse at the creature before him. Two things happened, Voldemort’s wand flew from his hand to Neville’s, and he fell to the ground when the bones in his lower legs snapped. Neville tossed the wand to Ginny.
“Snap it, Ginny.” he commanded. She did so with alacrity and dropped the two pieces on the paving stones. She picked a large piece of rubble and smashed the pieces to smithereens. Neville stood over the prostrate figure of Voldemort. Wandless magic poured towards Neville but apart from ruffled hair he was unaffected.
“Why? How?” said a suddenly frightened Dark Lord.
“The prophesy.” Said Neville quietly. “It was foretold.”
“No, Potter was the one.”
“There were two boys born as the seventh month died. I was the other.”
“You’re not the one. I marked Potter ‘as my equal’ not you. Some equal, he lies there dead, and I live.”
“You killed his parents and marked him with a scar. You marked me in a way that can’t be seen. You took my parents from me too. Tortured them into insanity where they remain to this day. Once a month I have to visit them. Do you think that those visits don’t leave a mark? I can tell you they have scarred my soul deeper than any physical wound you can inflict. Your soul is scarred beyond redemption and because of you, so is mine. That’s how you marked me as your equal, and now I’m going to kill you.”
“Kill me? I don’t think so. It’s not in you to kill, is it? Mild Neville Longbottom isn’t a killer, no matter what the provocation.” Neville took a pace forward and crouched down, speaking softly. The words may have been soft, but there was definite menace in the tone.
“I’m going to watch you die, you bastard. This is for Frank and Alice Longbottom, for James and Lily Potter, for Albus Dumbledore, for Remus and Nymphadora Lupin, for Harry Potter, for Ron Weasley, for Fred Weasley, for Cedric Diggory and all the thousands of others whose names I do not know.” He saw for the first time in the eyes of Tom Riddle an appreciation of the fact that Neville meant every word he said. An appreciation of the fact that he had made a mistake; and that mistake was going to kill him. Fear oozed out of every pore,
“No, please…” Neville’s anger increased.
“Did Lily Potter use those words, when you were about to kill her son? Did she plead? Did she grovel? Save your breath Riddle, it will avail you nothing. Are you ready?” Neville pointed his wand at Tom Riddle’s chest, he did not raise his voice but it seemed to carry to everyone. “Avada Ke… dav…” with each pause a whimper escaped the trembling lips, that also carried to all. The whole assemblage held its collective breath. “…ra.”
Neville stood and took three paces toward the assembled Death Eaters. He pointed his wand in their direction. “You lot! We know who you are. Get the fuck out of here before I really get mad.” They watched as hundreds of black trails shot into the air. The Battle of Hogwarts was over.
Hogwarts emptied rapidly. They said a tearful farewell to Ginny when the Weasley’s took Fred and Ron home to the Burrow. Only a few Gryffindor’s remained in the common room that evening. The tone was sombre and subdued. Tears flowed freely. People drifted off to bed until only Hermione and Neville remained. Together they comforted each other, crying through the night.
Hermione choked at the next memory. Four months after the battle, the public adulation, the constant attention of the newspapers and other media, had proved too much for poor Neville, now known as the Hogwarts Hero, and he had turned his wand on himself. Hearing the news, Hermione had decided that enough was enough. She quit the magic world. That had been five months ago.
Her parents returned and sat at her bedside. Hermione managed a smile. “I’ve decided to name him after his father.” Hermione looked at her new-born son in the hospital cot next to her bed. “Mum, Dad, I’d like you to meet Neville Granger.”