Neville Longbottom was born in late July 1980, the son of Frank and Alice Longbottom. The only child of the two popular Aurors, Neville's childhood took a sharp turn for the worse very early indeed. When he was little more than a year old, Death Eaters looking for their defeated master hunted down his parents, using the Cruciatus Curse on them in an attempt to force Voldemort's whereabouts out of them. They did not know, but even if they had, they would sooner have died than told. That option, alas, was not open to them; the Death Eaters were not that merciful. The torment instead drove them both irretrievably insane.

Though not applied to him directly, the Death Eaters' curses left a powerful mark on wee Neville. Even a child too young for language will remember emotionally charged events on some level. When the screaming nightmares started, Frank Longbottom's mother --- Neville's grandmother and guardian --- was forced to admit that the child needed more specialized care than was in her power to give. The Healers at St. Mungo's, who already had the care of Neville's parents, did their absolute best to calibrate the Memory Charms so that they would not adversely affect the boy. It was hoped they would merely make his nights more tolerable and allow the worst memories to fade out of existence.

Unfortunately, they still overdid it. The Memory Charms did their work, all right, but they left marks of their own: a tendency to forgetfulness, a certain difficulty with concentration, and a certain amount of difficulty with magic in general. That last prevented the boy from manifesting as a wizard for most of his childhood years, despite the best efforts of his Great Uncle Algie to waken Neville's potential. It wasn't until Algie dangled Neville out a window at a family party and inadvertently dropped him that the unusual toughness typical of wizards (who, after all, get hit by flying iron balls regularly in Quidditch) came to the fore --- the boy bounced. A lot. Clear from the house into the street. The rejoicing was tremendous in Lancashire that day!

Neville's life only got more demanding after that. No longer a suspected Squib but instead a very definite wizard, he found himself saddled with entirely new expectations. His Gran had always pushed him hard in school and kept him on quite a tight leash, but now he had his parents' school in his future Hogwarts. That meant serious studies, regardless of whether he was any good at them or not. While no one was dropping him out windows or pushing him off piers any more, Neville gloomily reflected more than once that things weren't much nicer. Most of his lessons seemed to go in one ear and out the other, no matter how hard he tried; he had to practice the basics of incantations five or six times before getting them right even once, and as for texts, they went in one eye and out the other.

Matters didn't get much easier at Hogwarts, but in one respect they did: he had room to breathe. He had trouble concentrating when he was afraid, and while he loved his grandmother, he was a little afraid of her as well. The Potions Master was more terrifying by far than Gran could ever be, but --- well --- when he wasn't actually in Potions class. . . and when Professor Snape wasn't prowling the corridors. . . and when he wasn't glaring balefully at meals in the Great Hall. . . well, it wasn't all
*that* bad. And Neville had friends at Hogwarts, too: Harry Potter, and Ron Weasley, and Hermione Granger. That made a difference. Yes, there were those who thought he'd somehow fooled the Sorting Hat when he'd been placed in Gryffindor instead of Hufflepuff, but they were wrong. The Hat had seen what became manifestly clear by the end of Neville's first year: courage is not always nerve and daring. Courage is in the going on, in the willingness to continue in the face of things that chill you to the bone because there is something that must be done.

And oh, yes, there was a thing that had to be done. Neville knew that, knew it from the very beginning. If he ever thought otherwise, he was reminded of it every year, at the holidays. His parents yet lived, though they didn't know him or anyone else. There wasn't a thing the wizards and witches at St. Mungo's could do to cure them. There were others, too --- others mind-addled by magic in Ward 49, or wracked and ruined in body by other work of He Who Must Not Be Named and his minions.

That was NOT going to happen again.

Neville wasn't made of the stuff his parents were; he didn't have the temperament to be an Auror. He could never have deceived himself about that. His only really excellent subject was Herbology, which was conspicuously absent from the requirements to become a hunter of Dark wizards. In another dark part of England's history, in a world without magic, he would have become a soldier in a heartbeat so as to guard the home front. In the Muggle world he'd have become a police officer. In the wizarding world he didn't have quite the same choices, but there was one that came close: the Department of Magical Law Enforcement. There were, after all, other threats than Death Eaters --- things and people as bad as Dark wizards. For all that his Gran seemed intent on making him into an Auror, or barring that a Healer, Neville knew he wouldn't be able to pull it off. His practice in Dumbledore's Army convinced him of something: he could put himself between his friends and harm --- or between innocent people and harm. And, well, when it came right down to it, it wasn't a job that required nearly as much in the way of OWLs, let alone NEWTs. He'd manage.

And when the battle erupted at the Ministry of Magic in Neville's fifth year, he *did* manage --- and then some. In the face of the people who shattered his parents' minds he had the courage to go on, and fought as valiantly as any Gryffindor of legend. He survived what they threw at him and fought for his friends. He came out of that night alive, free, and sane. It was enough.

After that it was only a matter of time. Neville kept up his studies, motivated now to pursue Defense Against the Dark Arts and even --- yes! --- Charms to the utmost. The studying never got any easier, but the constant repetition and ceaseless opportunities to practice eventually managed to sink in for him. When the war got under way in earnest, Neville ranked high among those who led the defense of the Hogsmeade refugees. Though he was no Healer, his Herbology knowledge and understanding of Potions (for despite Snape's attitude in class, Neville *had* absorbed quite a lot of information from him) stood him in good stead as well. The hospital wing was quickly overwhelmed and *someone* had to look to the wounded. Far too young and far too untrained for it, Neville found himself thrust into the unenviable position of battlefield medic. Again, the courage was in the going on, and go on he did.

There have been a lot of things Neville might reasonably have wanted to forget since that time. He hasn't taken that option; he knows what it would cost. He has instead decided that the magical equivalent of a military career is where he belongs. Someone's got to do it, and though the prospect of *another* war leaves his palms sweaty and his mouth dry, he knows full well that he *can*. And when Neville is good at a thing, he doesn't give up on it, ever.