“It doesn’t matter that Harry’s gone. People die every day! Friends. Family. Yeah, we lost Harry tonight. But he’s still with us, in here. So’s Fred. Remus. Tonks. All of them. They didn’t die in vain. But you will! ‘Cause your wrong! Harry’s heart did beat for us! For all of us! It’s not over!”
– Neville Longbottom
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollows, Pt. 2
Out the many, many moments of inspiration and wisdom in this franchise, this is probably my favorite. Though Harry Potter is still alive, everyone, friends and enemies alike, believe him to be dead. Of course, Voldemort, and his followers want to use Harry’s death to cow the last of their opponents. It makes sense to them, you see, as the Death Eaters broke apart and went into hiding after Voldemort’s fall at the beginning of the series. As Harry is the Chosen One to defeat Voldemort, they expect Hogwarts’ defenders to do similarly, as he who gave them hope, who they followed into battle, is gone.
Perhaps they might have been right, to a point. Certainly, there would be some stubborn holdouts, but with Harry gone, what’s the point in continuing to fight? That thought would be ringing in anyone’s head at that moment, choking their resolve like a noose.
And then Neville steps forward, and has his say.
Interestingly, it was none other than Voldemort himself who chose the infant Harry as the one he should fear, spurred by prophecy. There was another option, though, none other than Neville. Neville, who was the butt of so many jokes, who did poorly in school, was always in the background, near but not really part of the Harry-Ron-Hermione trio, just out of the spotlight, invisible. A nobody, most would say, having been passed over by Voldemort.
But this “nobody” has learned things, and while he may not have the fame, he is equal to any of the main protagonists in terms of his character and his willpower. He did, after all, endure the lifelong aftermath of what the Death Eaters did to his parents, and he has, many a time, shown courage, resourcefulness, and even the same luck which guards the main protagonists. When Harry and co. had to go into hiding and hunting Voldemort’s weaknesses, it was Neville who held down the fort at Hogwarts, leading, as opposed to simply “inspiring,” the resistance within the wizard school.
It makes all the sense in the world for Neville to be the one to step forward and lead again when Harry falls. And he does this in a simple statement: hope does not need to die with those who inspired it. Those who die linger within our hearts, so close to us, just in a way we can’t see or touch. When one dies for a good cause, for one’s comrades and loved ones, that cause can continue long after they’ve gone cold. But those like Voldemort, who fight and kill only for themselves, will certainly die in vain, for no man lives forever. And die they will. Die, they can! The cause continues, no matter the fallen, in honor of the fallen! The fight does not end just because one person dies! It never ends, not while even one soul who will fight for it remains alive!
If the victory of evil is secured only by good men doing nothing, then all we must do… is keep fighting.
No matter how bleak it looks… it’s not over!