Lightning Has Just Struck My Brain
The one with the power to vanquish the Dark Lord approaches…born to those who have thrice defied him, born as the seventh month dies…and the Dark Lord will mark him as his equal, but he will have power the Dark Lord knows not...and either must die at the hand of the other for neither can live while the other survives...the one with the power to vanquish the Dark Lord will be born as the seventh month dies...
There were a lot of things about Neville that weren't making sense to Harry.
Like why they had him use his father's wand all this time instead of getting him one of his own, when everybody knew you wouldn’t do as well as with your own and clearly Neville needed all the help he could get.
Like how even with the new wand there wasn't fantastic improvement. There was a little bit, but nothing like the dramatic improvement that had happened when Ron had got his own wand instead of his brother's.
Like how Neville would study days before an exam and have the material down cold, then turn around and fail the test as though he hadn't studied at all.
Like how Neville continually had meetings with Dumbledore, even though he never did anything noticeably punishable, except for to set the record for most detentions given in a single Potions lesson.
Like how Neville had a weird blotch on his left forearm that he had shown Harry late one night and said it had appeared after their trip to the Department of Mysteries and he'd fought the Death Eaters.
Harry mulled over all these pieces for weeks into their Sixth Year, knowing that it meant something, but unable to say what. He would often drift off during classes, staring at Neville and trying to puzzle it out.
If Harry hadn't been staring at Neville during Potions, he would have never seen Snape ruin Neville's perfectly good Chameleon Potion when Neville was concentrating on dicing the Sardaplant root. Snape then called attention to Neville and berated him as a moron in front of the entire class.
Why would Snape ruin Neville's potion on purpose? Harry wrinkled his brow. He doubted it was because Snape wanted the pleasure of Neville's company in Potions long after he should have graduated. What's more, why draw attention to it? Harry watched carefully and saw that Snape watched the reaction of everyone else, not Neville.
He wants us all to know that Neville's incompetent, Harry realized suddenly. He wants no doubt in our minds that Neville Longbottom is the worst wizard Hogwarts has ever seen.
Harry made up his mind then to follow Neville next time he was called to Dumbledore's office and see for himself what happened during these meetings.
Hidden under his cloak, Harry trailed along behind Neville to the stone gargoyle that protected the stairs up to the Headmaster's office. He had no choice but to squeeze past it right after Neville and press closely up the stairs.
"Who's there?" Neville demanded suddenly, whirling quickly and catching hold of the cloak. Harry was surprised at actually being caught for once, and decided the best course of action was to reveal himself.
"S'me," Harry whispered, slipping the cloak off his face. "I want to know what happens when you see Dumbledore all the time."
"Nothing much really," Neville shrugged. "He just talks to me about how I've screwed up this week and…and…well, it goes a bit fuzzy usually, but that's just because I've done it a million times I'm sure."
There was a pause.
"Is it just me," Neville asked with a sigh, "or does that sound incredibly stupid?"
"Something's going on here, Neville," Harry said. "Let me come in with you and we'll see what it is."
Harry neglected to mention that he was more than half-certain that Dumbledore could see through the Invisbility Cloak or at least knew when one was present. He was hoping that if Dumbledore only expected Neville, Neville was all he would see.
Harry stayed in the shadows near the door while Neville went across the large office to sit in front of Dumbledore's desk.
He watched as Neville and Dumbledore chatted innocuously for a few minutes, and was just letting down his guard when suddenly Dumbledore pulled out his wand and Stupefied Neville. Harry stared with growing horror and confusion as Dumbledore cast several spells in quick succession that Harry didn't know, but seemed like variations on memory spells.
Even more unexpected, Dumbledore then reached over and plucked Neville's wand out of Neville's hand and murmured another spell over it. Neville started to stir and Dumbledore handed him back his wand. Neville took it sleepily, and it shot a few feeble sparks, far weaker than it ought to have been.
"Neville," Dumbledore said calmly, "what are you studying this week in Potions?"
"Er," Neville still seemed rather confused, "I think…Chameleon Potions?"
"What's the active ingredient in that sort of potion?" Dumbledore asked.
"I…uh…hmm…" Neville furrowed his brow in concentration.
Harry stared in disbelief. They'd made that potion this afternoon, there was no way even Neville could have forgotten by now. And he knew for a fact that Neville's been reading ahead, he should have been able to answer that questions without even blinking.
Dumbledore was making Neville forget his lessons, was making his wand less effective, but why?! Harry racked his brains while Dumbledore dismissed Neville and Neville wandered woozily out of his office.
"You can come out now, Harry," Dumbledore said evenly. Harry shrugged off the cloak and stepped forward without surprise, but beginning to get angry.
"You're fooling around with Neville's mind!" Harry accused, coming to stand right in front of Dumbledore and glaring down at him.
"It's for his own good," Dumbledore replied.
"His own good?!" Harry demanded. "Have you been doing this all six years?! You're probably doing him permanent damage! He studies his arse off every week only to fail every exam! You have Snape ruining his Potions, don't you?! Everyone thinks he's the biggest failure this side of Gilderoy Lockhart!"
Dumbledore continued to stare back at Harry silently, and Harry thought furiously, adding up the failed exams and ruined potion and ineffective wand and the mark on Neville's arm….and how Neville had touched the Prophecy….
"It's Neville," Harry whispered, and Dumbledore's eyes twinkled all the confirmation he needed.
It was Neville who the prophecy was about, Harry finally realized. Neville was marked, he'd handled the prophecy, Neville was the Boy Who Lived.
Neville was the one who had to fight Voldemort.
"But then…I'm marked!" Harry exclaimed, reaching up without thinking to touch his scar. Dumbledore still did not reply and the truth continued to seep into Harry's consciousness. "But not as an equal, is it? Voldemort didn't mean to mark me, and a baby isn't anybody's equal…it's all just a coincidence, isn't it?"
Dumbledore seemed likely to say nothing while Harry rambled on to his own conclusions.
"I was possessed…but Ginny was too, and she's hardly the Girl Who Lived. I touched the Prophecy…but you were the one who recorded it, you could have spelled it easily! It's been you the whole time! Neville's the one after all! But then…who am I?"
Harry's confused scowl finally cleared.
"I'm just a decoy," he said.
"Obliviate," said Dumbledore.
"Albus," McGonagall said when she came to retrieve Harry, "this is the third time this month alone Mr. Potter has realized the truth. There must be a more efficient way to deal with this."
"When he is smart enough not to tell me, of all people, that he has things figured out," Dumbledore answered, "then he will be smart enough to keep his epiphany. Or epiphanies, I should say."
"You will damage him." McGonagall's lips pressed into a thin line. "You can't keep doing this."
"I am the Headmaster, Minerva," Dumbledore smiled pleasantly. "I can do whatever I like."