I got to meet baby Neville today. The Longbottoms have taken him home from the hospital, and Alice invited me to visit.
I’d forgotten how perfect a new baby can be; they’re entirely themselves, experiencing life for the first time, being passed from one loving set of arms to another. (Frank’s mother was staying at the house, which meant that Neville was most often in the arms of his doting and domineering grandmother, and Alice kept sending me mirthful and apologetic looks. It seems Neville’s gran already knows everything about how he should be raised.)
It’s strange to think that, if all goes well, I will be teaching Neville introductory transfiguration in eleven years. If all goes poorly, I suppose Hogwarts will no longer exist—but I’d rather not think about that. Today, I am not going to write about the war. I am going to write about the delight of meeting a child during his very first days on this earth, and watching his parents marvel at how wonderful he is.
Alice and Frank have become dear friends, and I’m touched that they want me to be a part of Neville’s life. I was surprised to feel nervous when I first held the baby, as if I’d drop him or hurt him in some way. I held my brothers, when they were babies, but I was barely older than they were. I didn’t realize how great a responsibility it was to hold a child—or to raise a child. Alice and Frank are going to teach this boy how to live; how to be strong and brave and kind. They’ve asked me to help them with that, and I hope I do my job well. I’ve already promised to come by next Sunday. (I should bring something. Maybe a meat pie.)
It’s hard not to think of another family, right now, and another baby. This child was not born in a hospital, and no one knows where he is—well, one person does. I trust that he is just as perfect, and that his parents are smiling at him the way Alice and Frank smile at Neville, but I don’t know. None of us do.
To save this baby’s life, we will have to treat him as if he were never born. He and his family will be hidden away for as long as the war goes on. Someday I will meet Harry Potter, but I have no idea when that day may be.