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I have to be honest with you: this space was originally going to be occupied by Sirius Black. However, when I re-read “The Deathly Hallows,” (coupled with “Order of the Phoenix”), I realized that Neville Longbottom needed his own place on my character countdown. In the first four books, Neville gets kind of glossed over. He’s the funny kid–the weird, plump, clumsy boy who gets teased by the other kids. He’s good at Herbology, and he stands up to Hermione in “Sorcerer’s Stone,” but what else does he do, really? The truth is, he doesn’t do much… until “Order of the Phoenix.”

One of my favorite scenes with Neville is during the battle at the Ministry of Magic. Bellatrix threatens to use the Cruciatus Curse on Neville if Harry doesn’t relinquish the prophecy. She taunts and tortures Neville, but throughout the entire ordeal he tells Harry not to give Bellatrix the prophesy. He’s fifteen years old. No one would have blamed him if he gave into the pain and begged Harry to give Bella the prophecy, but he doesn’t, because he’s a Gryffindor and Gryffindors never back down.

Neville doesn’t come into his own, however, until the final book. The funny thing about Harry Potter is that I am, at the same time, satisfied with the books as they are and filled with a deep longing for more. I want a book about the Hogwarts Founders, a book about the Marauders, a book about the second generation. But more than anything (except perhaps the Marauders story, because that would mean more Remus), I want to know what it was like for Ginny, Neville, Luna and the others in that final year at Hogwarts while the Trio was off hunting Horcruxes. The glimpse we got of Neville in the final book was, in a word, glorious. He was strong. He was fearless. He was a total BAMF, and I am ashamed to say I never, ever saw it coming. Neville taught me that you should never underestimate anyone, not even a fictional character. A round face and a forgetful mind can, when needed, transform into a strong, brave leader. After all, only a true Gryffindor can pull Godric’s sword out of the Sorting Hat.