Guilt

Chapter 1

"HARRY POTTER… IS DEAD!" was the first thing Neville Longbottom had heard once Voldemort and his Death Eaters had appeared at the courtyard. He witnessed the limp corpse of Harry Potter being carried by a desolate Hagrid who looked like he had lost his own son.

Absolutely everything had turned to white noise, as his entire being had filled with despair. If Harry Potter had died… what had they fought for? The one shining light of hope had been snuffed out; their only way to beat Voldemort, had died. The realization was almost too much for the stand-in Leader of the Dumbledore's Army to take in. There was a sudden tightening of his chest which he could not begin to describe. Was the blood loss from his head injury finally getting to him?

He felt empty to the pit of his stomach as he looked down at his feet.

In spite of his mental anguish, his eye had caught something familiar. The silhouette of a hat, to be specific.

Is that… the sorting hat? thought Neville, as he picked up the ragged old relic. He couldn't believe that the hat had survived through such chaos. He dusted the hat which took him on a trip down memory lane.

"GRIFFYNDOR!" cried the sorting hat, as the Gryffindor table erupted into cheer and had warmly welcomed Neville Longbottom. Despite the warm welcome, he had never felt this queasy in his 10 years of living. Gryffindor was the House of the Brave. It made no sense to Neville as to why he had been placed in this house. After all, he was Neville Longbottom: The grandson who could, and never will, live up to his Grandmother's expectations. The chubby kid who everyone made fun of. The good for nothing-

"GRIFFYNDOR!" shouted the hat once again, breaking through Neville's thoughts. He watched as The Boy Who Lived excitedly took his seat at the Gryffindor table. Well, of course… thought Neville. THE Harry Potter was much more suited to be at Gryffindor.

He was jolted out of his thoughts when he saw Voldemort awkwardly hug Draco Malfoy, as he welcomed him to join his side. Not something you see everyday, Neville thought wryly as he was brought back to reality. The reality of them having lost the war.

This is it. All is lost. There's no meaning in fighting anymore. Might as well be the first to die, as the now-leader of Dumbledore's Army

Despite the forlornness and the still remaining tightening of his chest, Neville felt oddly… liberated. For once in his life, he felt like he could do anything he wanted. If he were to die within the next few minutes if not seconds, he might as well choose how he dies now, couldn't he?

Having made up his mind, Neville slowly limped to confront The Dark Lord. He could feel the hair on his neck prickle, as he felt the eyes of the entire school upon him.

"I must say, I had hoped for better" cracked Voldemort, as the Death Eaters mockingly laughed at him. The wisecrack hadn't fazed Longbottom, as he kept limping his way towards him.

"And who might you be, young man?" Voldemort inquired, making Neville stop his sorrowful excuse of a stride.

"Neville Longbottom" and not a second after his reply, the intensity of mocking laughter had increased. The cackle of one Bellatrix Lestrange pierced through the laughter uniquely, as she recognized the family name. The laughter died down, allowing their Master to speak.

"Well, Neville, I am sure we can find a place for you in our ranks-"

"I'd like to say something", Neville interjected which clearly hadn't pleased the person who possessed the Elder Wand as he scrunched his face in impatience.

"Well, Neville, I'm sure we'd all be fascinated to hear what you have to say", Voldemort replied calmly as Neville took a moment to collect his thoughts before finally speaking

"It doesn't matter that Harry's gone"

"Stand down, Neville-"

"People die everyday!" Neville promptly cut off Seamus's interruption before continuing as he turned to look back at the remnants of the people who stood with Hogwarts "Friends… Family… Yeah, we lost Harry tonight. But is he not with us? In here?" Neville paused as he had brought the hand that was not holding on to the sorting hat, to his chest. "Fred, Remus, Tonks… they did not die in vain… BUT YOU WILL!"

He could finally recognize the odd tightening of his chest... Anger for losing a close friend in Harry, and resentment at himself for not being a good enough comrade to have helped him. Those feelings had surfaced as Neville spat at Voldemort's direction.

"'CAUSE YOU'RE WRONG! HARRY'S HEART DID BEAT FOR US! FOR ALL OF US!" Neville continued, before pulling The Sword of Godric Gryffindor from the sorting hat surprising everyone present, including himself.

"IT'S NOT OVER!" he roared triumphantly, as he had gotten ready to meet his end at the hands of the wizard before him.

What followed merely a second after, was something that Neville Longbottom would describe as nothing short of a miracle.

Harry's corpse rolled out of Hagrid's arms, and had fired a spell at Voldemort's snake in an attempt to kill the Horcrux.

Confusion. Followed by elation. Neville Longbottom didn't have to look at his peers to know that they were experiencing the same emotions as he was.

Voldemort stared in horror as Harry Potter attempted to flee from him. He fired a wide variety of spells in an attempt to kill Harry Potter, but had failed as the silhouette of The Boy Who Lived disappeared from his sight for a brief moment before appearing beside his comrades.

The professors ushered in the students while casting a defensive spell around them as Voldemort and the remnants of his Death Eaters who had stayed even after Harry was found to be alive, came down at them barring all of their force upon them.

Spells were deflected on both sides before Neville had realized that Voldemort had yet to actually fire a single spell at them.

The moment Voldemort raised his wand, Neville instinctively thrust himself forward to bare the full brunt of whatever was headed their way. As the spell came barreling down their direction, Neville was able to clearly recognize the spell.

Bombarda Maxima… Neville realized in horror. A deadly spell fired from the strongest wand in existence, by one of the strongest wizards to have ever existed.

So, this is it, huh? Was his final thought before the spell had clashed head on with the sword resulting in him being flung across The Great Hall.

He had heard a faint "NEVILLE!" being screamed by Harry before consciousness failed him