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Chapter 15 : Humility
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Carrying Lavender through the fighting was no easy task. Somehow, Neville and Hannah had to carry the stretcher that Hannah had summoned, and at the same time deul any Death Eater that tried to stop them. All of this, added to the complete confusion of feeling in Neville’s mind, meant for an interesting journey.
Realising that Hannah had not fallen to her end had brought Neville a wave of relief. Feeling flooded back to him and for a split second the depressing thoughts disappeared. But when the truth hit home; that Lavender had suffered Hannah’s fate and worse, Neville was washed over with the empty feeling once again.
The world as Neville and Hannah knew it was at its end. The smell of burning was everywhere. Flames ripped apart the castle and the air was burnt too. Heat clung to Neville, Hannah and Lavender’s faces, melting them slowly away.
Navigating through the crumbling castle that had so suddenly become a battlefield was difficult. Every turning there was another obstacle; giants who did not care what they stepped on, the reckless spells of overwhelmed students, fatal curses from Death Eaters, stampeeds of cenatuers and falling rubble. As if that wasn’t enough, something a simple as breathing was now a strain. Ash, dirt and smoke was bitter in their mouths.
Suddenly, Neville became aware of a rasped, rattling noise from above him, and a large, misshapen shadow cast over Lavender’s body. Neville saw Hannah’s eyes widen and glaze over. For both of them, this creature would take a permanent place in their nightmares for years to come.
The great spider screeched again, and prepared to sink its fangs into any one of them, thirsty for human flesh.
All eight of the spider’s 6-foot long legs snapped to its body.
In a huge gust of wind, as forceful as Neville’s words, the immobilised creature flew backwards into a crowd of Death Eaters with a thunderous crash.
Not bothering to view the aftermath of Neville’s actions, they ran away, as fast as they could whilst carrying Lavender’s deteriorating life. The sound of a thousand voices echoed in their ears. Screams. Green lights.
She didn’t hear him. His voice was consumed by an ear-splitting shattering. It was as if the whole corridor had caved in. The glass of every window surrounding them shot inwards, creating a glittering storm of daggers.
Sound echoed around him. Voices floated in and out of his ears, undecipherable as if they came from miles away but were growing closer.
With a grunt, Neville sat up and opened his eyes to see who had woken him from his peaceful, dream like state. Two blurred faces slowly came into focus.
“Hannah, Seamus?” He blinked, checking he wasn’t imagining things. “The glass- what happened?”
Seamus smiled. “Hannah saved our lives. That’s what happened.”
Hannah blushed modestly. Neville was sad to see that she was covered with scars.
“I had a Death Eater on my tail, so I ran into the corridor to lose him but the whole place exploded about 5 steps in. It’s a shame that the Death Eater missed out on all the fun.” Seamus continued. “I thought I was a goner, but then everything turned white- into feathers- just floating. Then I saw Hannah, standing there looking at her wand. I don’t think she believed it was her.”
Hannah’s cheeks grew even redder and redder again when she accidently looked into Neville’s eyes. Neville didn’t know if that was a good thing or not, so for the time being he assumed it was.
Seamus went on. “And, as if saving our lives wasn’t enough, she fixed up all our wounds as well.”
Neville looked down at himself. All that remained of his many cuts were thin, white scars.
“It was nothing, really I…”
Seamus cut Hannah off. “She’s just like you Neville, too modest.”
Seamus stood up. “Right. I’m off to do a round with Dean.”
Neville and Hannah watched him walk away.
“Round?” Neville asked, confused.
“Voldemort ordered a ceasefire, he said he wanted Harry to meet him in the Forbidden Forest within the hour. We’re collecting the injured and the…” Hannah trailed off, staring at something beyond them. She and Neville watched as Pavrati touched the cheek of her best friend Lavender Brown for the last time before covering her face.
Hannah was putting every ounce of her energy into restraining tears.
“Hannah, I’m sorry- I should of done more- I…”
“It’s not your fault. If anything, it’s mine.” Hannah said. She looked away, ashamed of herself. She had promised to help Lavender, to keep her safe. She hadn’t.
“You shouldn’t blame yourself- you weren’t the one who made Lavender fall, you didn’t cause the explosion.”
Hannah was silent. Neville went on “You did all you could to try and save her, that’s more than enough.”
Hannah’s words were nothing more than a whisper.
“I didn’t do everything I could. Before the explosion- I-I should have done more- my spell didn’t work- I tried- but every time it wasn’t strong enough”
Neville put his arm around her comfortingly.
“I think you’ve proved that you’re more than adept at magic Hannah. There are just some things you can’t stop.”
Hannah absentmindedly lent her head on Neville’s shoulder. It felt right somehow, as if she belonged there, and at that moment she knew, deep down, what Neville said was true.
“I guess I always knew that not everyone was going to make it.” She said softly. “But it’s a lot easier to lie to yourself sometimes, tell yourself that everything is going to be completely fine, rather than accept the truth.”
Neville agreed. He often felt the same. For a minute they sat in silence, happy with being together, collecting their thoughts.
“I’m not going to give up Neville.”
“Don’t worry, neither am I.” He said, and for once, he was completely confident. “You know, a great woman once told me that happiness is the greatest shield and smiles are the strongest weapons. She’s right.”
Hannah smiled, but only slightly.
“I wouldn’t call her great.”
Neville looked at her, right at her, not understanding how Hannah could say that about herself. To Neville, she was simply amazing.
“You’re pretty great to me.”
Hannah didn’t blush when he said this. Perhaps she had chosen to accept her brilliance.
Neville never found out.
Oliver Wood had appeared in front of them. His hair was ruffled, his clothes burnt and torn, and his face was expressionless. There were several cuts around his jawline that changed shape when he moved his mouth to speak.
“I’ve found Colin.”
Neville glanced at Hannah to check she was ok with him letting go. She nodded, understanding completely.
“Do what you have to do.”
She stepped away. The urge to burst into tears was ten times greater now that Colin’s name had been added to the ever-growing tally of lost lives, but she remained strong. Hannah was going to be true to her words. She would not give up.
Neville saw her disappear into the crowd then turned back to Oliver.
“Colin’s injured?” He asked. It was depressing knowing that injury was the best he could hope for. He felt as if he was asking Oliver whether Colin was dead now, or if he would be in about ten minutes time.
Oliver was thinking the same, except he knew the truth. He hated to be the one to cut Neville’s thin string of hope.
Authors Note: I would just like to thank everyone that has read, and/or reviewed my story so far, it means a lot to me and it keeps me motivated about my writing. A special thank you to Flavia for all her comments and advice! I hope you enjoy the chapter, along with the others and please feel free to review, I love to hear from you guys!~Hufflepuffhallows
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