Chapter 24 : Finally
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‘Dear Mr Weasley and Ms Lovegood,
In regards to the letter you sent to us, we have held a hearing for Mr Neville Longbottom and Miss Pansy Parkinson. The charges that have been set are as such:
Miss Parkinson confessed, under the influence of Veritasyrum to placing the imperious curse on Mr Longbottom and forcing him to kill Mr Ronald Weasley, due to the fact that he killed her father in the Second Wizarding War. She has been sentenced to 25 years to life in Azkaban.
Mr Neville Longbottom has confessed, also under the influence of Veritasyrum that he knew nothing of what Miss Parkinson had planned for him and is in Magical Rehab for three weeks. He is no longer a danger to anyone and will be returning to Hogwarts for his seventh year graduation.
I sighed as I unfolded and refolded the letter and stuffed it inside my robes. I had read it so many times that I had it memorised. It was the day of Graduation, and I still hadn’t seen Neville anywhere.
The Great Hall was packed with parents, friends, students and teachers and it was impossible to pick a face out of the crowd. I kept my eyes to the front, not looking around at all. I had no idea what I would do if I saw Neville, so I tried to block it from my mind.
Finally it was time to accept our diplomas. The ceremony had already taken a couple of hours for speeches and now the entire seventh year had to be called up individually. We would be called up in alphabetical order by last name, meaning Neville would be right before me. It was when the ‘J’ section was being called that I turned to my side to find the seat next to mine occupied at last. He looked no different to the last time I saw him, except for his eyes. The evil spark that was once there was now replaced by a sorrowful look.
I found myself staring into Neville’s face until he stood up and walked onto the stage. I shook my head quickly to compose myself and followed him up once my name was called. I walked up and accepted my diploma from a beaming McGonagall and sat down to watch everyone else receive theirs.
After every single year seven student had received their diploma, Professor McGonagall stood up again.
“As some of you may know, we lost a dear student this year.” She began. I looked around uneasily, trying not to meet anyone’s eye. I saw Harry, Ginny and Hermione doing the same thing.
“Ronald Weasley was a dear student. He took a big part in the Second Wizarding War and was killed tragically in the New Year.” I looked down at my hands, tears blurring my vision as the speech continued. I felt a hand on my arm and looked up to see Neville looking at me for the first time that day, his eyes also full of tears.
“I’m so sorry, Luna, for everything.” He said, his voice cracking as tears began to slide down his face. I squeezed his hand and leaned against his shoulder as he sobbed. This was the Neville I knew and loved, and now he had to live with the burden of somebody else’s actions.
“I know.” I whispered, the tears falling freely down my face now.
I stood with my back against the wall scanning the crowd for Luna. The graduation ceremony had ended over twenty minutes ago, and I was still to glimpse her.
“George!” a voice rose from the crowd. I turned to see Luna hurrying towards me towing Neville behind her. I had read the letter that the Ministry sent me, and I knew it would be important to Luna for me to forgive him. Luna threw herself into my arms as Neville stood awkwardly behind us.
“Congratulations baby.” I murmured kissing her temple softly. Luna grinned as I released her from my arms, taking her hand in mine.
“Congratulations Neville.” I said leaning forward and shaking his hand. Neville looked shocked at my gesture, but quickly recovered taking my head in his.
“Listen, George.” Neville began, releasing his hand and shoving it in his robe pocket. “I’m so sorry for everything that has happened this year. I’m sorry for the things that Pansy made me do to your family. I had no idea what happened to me and I was scared and confused.” I looked straight into his eyes as he spoke. I knew that his words were sincere.
“It’s okay Neville, it wasn’t your fault.” I said as he let a breath out. I looked down at Luna to find her grinning up at me.
“Ask him.” She whispered into my ear when I leaned down to kiss her. I suddenly remembered the conversation we had had earlier that month.
“Neville?” I called as he turned to walk away. “Luna wants to invite you to our wedding, if you wanted to come, that is.” I said as he paused to look at me.
“I’d like that.” He said quietly as he turned to walk away from us. Luna squeezed my hand and I smiled down at her. Looks like things were finally going to work out after all.
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