Chapter 29 of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: The Lost Diadem
Neville is overjoyed to see them, but Harry, Ron, and Hermione are horrified by his battered appearance. Neville says this is nothing, wait till they see Seamus. Neville informs a dismayed Aberforth that more people will be Apparating in. Leading the Trio down the long, dark tunnel, Neville explains that the seven known secret passageways into Hogwarts have been magically sealed, and Death Eaters guard the exits. Everyone is talking about the Trio breaking into Gringotts and escaping on a Dragon. Harry confirms it is true.
Hogwarts has drastically changed since the Trio left. The Carrows, the two Death Eater professors now handle all student punishment, though the other teachers avoid sending anyone to them whenever possible. Amycus Carrow teaches Defence Against the Dark Arts, now just called "Dark Arts." Students are forced to practice the Cruciatus curse on detention students. Neville's refusal to curse anyone resulted in him being beaten, despite him being Pure Blood. Some students, notably Crabbe and Goyle, have proven quite apt at the Dark Arts and love practicing them. Alecto Carrow, the Muggle Studies teacher, insists Muggles are dirty and stupid like animals. Neville obtained one scar after asking how much Muggle blood she had. Neville and other Dumbledore's Army members were pulling pranks and creating disruptions, but after Luna and Ginny left school and punishments became more severe, the rebellion died down a bit. When Neville was identified as a ringleader, Death Eaters went after his grandmother, who put Dawlish in St. Mungo's, and is now on the run. Neville decided to "disappear".
Reaching Hogwarts, they enter an unfamiliar room to a cheering crowd inside. The Trio are ecstatic to see old friends—Seamus Finnigan, Terry Boot, Michael Corner, Lavender Brown, Ernie Macmillan, Anthony Goldstein, Parvati and Padma Patil, and many more. Hammocks are strung from floor to ceiling, and the room is embellished with Gryffindor, Hufflepuff, and Ravenclaw colors and symbols; only Slytherin is missing. To Harry's astonishment, they are in the Room of Requirement. Neville has been hiding there for some weeks now, and the room has continually expanded as more D.A. members arrived. Seamus, whose swollen face Harry initially failed to recognize, says the room is secure as long as at least one D.A. member remains inside. The only thing it is unable to provide is food. When Neville was really hungry, the tunnel leading to the Hog's Head opened, and Aberforth has been sending supplies ever since.
Everyone wants to know about the Trio's exploits. They have been listening to "Potterwatch" on the radio, but there are many unconfirmed rumors. Before Harry can respond, searing pain cuts through his scar as he briefly glimpses a furious Dark Lord discovering that the Ring Horcrux is missing. Little time is left, and everyone wants to help, believing Harry has returned to overthrow the Carrows and Snape. Harry explains they are only there to complete a task to help to destroy Voldemort, and insists everyone stay behind. He becomes panicked when more people pour in from the Hog's Head. Luna, Dean, Fred, George, Ginny, Lee Jordan, and Cho Chang climb through. Hermione agrees with Ron's suggestion that the others help them search. Harry does not need to do everything alone, time is running out, and they do not have to reveal what they are hunting. Harry finally concedes and says they are looking for something belonging to Rowena Ravenclaw. Luna thinks it could be the lost diadem, a type of crown. Hidden under the Invisibility Cloak, Luna leads Harry to the Ravenclaw Common room and shows him Rowena Ravenclaw's statue. As Harry steps out from under the Cloak, Alecto Carrow appears and instantly touches the Dark Mark on her forearm.
Against Harry's wishes, the final battle between him and Voldemort is primed to happen at Hogwarts, his arrival likely triggering it. It seems appropriate, indeed inevitable, that Harry and Voldemort's last confrontation should occur here; the castle and its surrounding grounds have played a major role throughout the story, and is where much of the series' action is set. With its many Ghosts, talking portraits, and other magical denizens, the castle is nearly a character in its own right. It is also the place that both Harry and Voldemort most consider home, and in Voldemort's case, probably the only thing he has ever had anything close to loving feelings for, though that is an emotion he can never fully experience. Harry loves Hogwarts, and he has always derived strength and security from the venerable old castle, enduring his enforced summer hiatus at the Dursleys' while impatiently waiting to return each September. This time, Harry's arrival is as a soldier on a mission rather than as a returning student, and Hogwarts is hardly a safe sanctuary but an imminent battleground, though that was never Harry's intention, nor does he have a battle plan. Regardless, reinforcements begin arriving, and Harry is deeply dismayed, because now, rather than sneaking in, finding the Horcrux, then sneaking out again to continue his quest, his appearance has set off a chain reaction of events that will culminate in a final resolution. And like it or not, Harry is the shining beacon that rallies and unifies the fragmented rebellion, and he is being pushed to the forefront to lead the climactic clash against Voldemort and his Death Eaters.
Harry also sees how much Hogwarts has changed, including Neville Longbottom. While Neville's battered appearance is shocking, his cheerful demeanor about it seems even more so. This clearly shows just how much Neville has grown from the ineffectual, frightened boy who first arrived at Hogwarts; he wears his bruises as badges of honor. The Sorting Hat placing Neville into Gryffindor House had always seemed questionable, and many readers probably, at least initially, believed he would have been better suited to Hufflepuff, rather than a House known for bravery and nobility. But courage and nobleness comes in many forms, and Neville, despite his magical deficiencies and timid nature, has always faced the adversity in his life head on, and showed fortitude as early as the first book, when he challenged the Trio after objecting to their questionable actions. This strength has gradually increased, and Neville has transformed from a shy, insecure, and nearly incompetent student, into a strong, capable wizard, mostly due to Harry's patient guidance.
Curiously, and appropriately, while Harry's influence helped develop Neville's character and magical abilities, Neville, in true epic-hero tradition, has grown significantly more during Harry's absence, just as Harry has further developed after Dumbledore's demise. Neville, along with Ginny and Luna, have assumed leadership roles by ably guiding Dumbledore's Army following Harry's departure, rebelling against the Carrows and Snape. Neville shows that, given the right circumstances, he is a natural leader, as well as a true Gryffindor; he, and the other D.A. members, are ready and able to join forces with Harry in the final battle against Voldemort.
- Why doesn't Harry recognize the Room of Requirement?
- Why doesn't Harry want the other students to help him with the mission, or follow him in overthrowing Snape and the Carrows? What changes his mind?
- Why are there no Slytherin colors or symbols represented in the Room of Requirement?
- How did news about the Trio's escape from Gringotts travel to Hogwarts so quickly?
- Why is Neville so cheerful, despite his battered appearance?
- How has Neville changed from his first year at Hogwarts? What accounts for that change?
Against his will, Harry becomes the rallying point for defending Hogwarts. This is, at least for the next while, a position that we see Harry attempting to sidestep. Harry quite clearly wants to avoid the coming battle, not because he is reluctant to fight, but rather because he feels personally responsible for all the deaths and injuries that would likely occur. He also sees this as being his own battle, and is extremely reluctant to involve others. He is clearly bewildered by the alacrity with which others seem to be taking up his cause, hardly realizing that so many other wizards are equally oppressed and have been searching for a banner to rally around. It is only after the encounter in the Forbidden Forest, when Harry feels he has acted to protect his friends against Voldemort, that he chooses to show himself as the leader of the counter-attack against the Dark Lord and his Death Eater army.
As mentioned above, Neville seems almost astoundingly changed, on this sudden arrival. We can see that this has actually been a more gradual development, if we review how he has changed over the previous six books. Neville will continue to exhibit strength of character and magical power over the next few chapters, by helping to defend the castle and in recovering casualties. Harry's faith in Neville's abilities grows to where Harry will entrust Neville with a vital task: dispatching the final Horcrux, embedded in Voldemort's pet snake Nagini, in the event that he, Ron, or Hermione are unable to do the job. Neville will prove that he is up to the challenge.
Harry here determines that the Horcrux he is searching for, the last but one, is hidden within Rowena Ravenclaw's lost Diadem. He bases this guess on Voldemort's proclivity for using artifacts once belonging to the Hogwarts Founders as vessels for his other Horcruxes. While his guess remains unsure, several things will reinforce this belief, including Alecto Carrow's presence in the Ravenclaw common room; Alecto is there because Voldemort believed Harry would enter it if he returned to Hogwarts, and this supports Harry's belief that Voldemort used a Ravenclaw artifact. Over the next few chapters, Harry will discover what happened to that Diadem after it supposedly vanished, and how it made its way back to the school. He will also learn that he actually once held it in his hand a year earlier without realizing it.