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Bound Souls

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When Neville is born, the date written upon his skin worries his parents, and sadden them. They know from the very beginning that they will have to watch their son lose his soulmate at a young age, too young to truly have enough time.

When he turns one, and his parents are tortured into insanity, his gran curses and blesses soulmarks in entirety and swears that her son and his wife will be there to help her grandchild when the day comes that he will lose the one he would have loved the highest in all of his life.

Because their death marks, written on each others wrists, have yet to come to pass and will not for at least another decade or two. They will even die on the same day as the other and Augusta Longbottom takes that as a sign that they will awaken and fight together until the very end. Perhaps even to protect this soulmate that Neville will lose.

When he turns eight and his great uncle drops him from out of a window, his gran weeps and laughs all together and secretly wonders at night if perhaps Neville will die first and the reason her son and his wife will die on that day will be because the last of their link to Neville dies the day before.

He turns eleven and she doesn’t hesitate to send him to Hogwarts, where both Albus Dumbledore and Minerva McGonagall resides, trusting that he will be the safest there as he could be at home. Safer, even, for no Death Eater would break into Hogwarts and torture him for hours without getting caught before they could reach him.

Mostly she has faith in Dumbledore’s power and in Minerva’s abilities.

He has turned twelve and she’s been informed that the Chamber has been re-opened. Temptation to pull him out is strong, but Augusta resists both because Neville is a pureblood and no one would think him a threat the way he is now.

She lets him stay at Hogwarts and he does as well as he seems capable of.

Third year rolls around and the news about Sirius Black spreads. Augusta does not consider pulling Neville out even once, despite his fear that she might, prompting him into saying he has to be there to help everyone stay safe. As well as he can, anyway.

Neville just wants to go home to Hogwarts again.

Yes, his gran is family, but so is great uncle Algie, and look, he loves his family just as he should, but at Hogwarts he is free to spend his time as he likes and not at the whims of others. If he wants to spend it on plants and dirt for a few evenings, well, Professor Sprout enjoys the company.

Sometimes he wonders if she’s his soulmate. He’ll never dare to ask, but he hopes she isn’t. He doesn’t want her to die so soon. She’s become family to him, even if only in the vaguest sense.

He doesn’t have a lot of mother figures, or even parent figures, in his life, and she is very kind, like he’s been told his mother had been, and she’s not afraid to do what she must, another trait he’s been told his mother had held. She’s got a lot of those similarities and does every soulmate have to be romantic?

Not that he wishes she is, he just wishes he had a way to claim her that doesn’t leave him a student and not a friend and not family.

He finds courage in Professor Lupin. Lupin is very kind to him and always has a good word of advice to offer, and Neville finds himself visiting every now and then, talking about the creatures the Professor is showing in class, and he’s having fun.

Professor Lupin slowly burrows his way into Neville’s heart, shaping a fatherly kind of hole to stay in. Neville lets him and it hurts when he learns of the secret he’d kept and that he has to leave because of it. Neville understands why he’d not told anyone, it’s not something you tell if you don’t have to -- like Neville doesn’t tell anyone about his living but insane parents hidden within St. Mungos -- but it still hurts a little.

He doesn’t see him before he leaves, but during summer he hunts down that book they’d talked about that Pro-- no, not Professor anymore, but he can’t just call him Lupin, can he? -- Mr. Lupin then -- that Mr. Lupin had wanted to have a look at before everything went wrong, and he sends an owl off with it, with a note written on the inside of the cover.

Remembered this. Thought you’d still like it. - Neville.

Which is funny, because Neville in general remembers very little. But this is important to him.

He doesn’t expect anything but a hungry and tired owl returning, so the letter in which Mr. Lupin kindly asks how he is and in general scolds him for letting the owl know not to take the book back, surprises Neville. But he appreciates it. And he writes back.

Is Mr. Lupin his soulmate? Merlin, he hopes not. That man deserves a long and happy life, not the short one that Neville’s soulmate will lead. It doesn’t even matter that he’s so very older, he deserves twice as long as he’s lived, at least, to live for. He ought to have happiness for as long as Dumbledore has lived, Neville is sure that he’d deserve every little bit of it.

At fourteen, Neville remembers the kindness of two of his favorite Professors -- Professor McGonagall is one of them despite her stern look and her disapproval with him, it’s nothing he’s not already used to with his gran -- and does his best to be just as kind. Even when Professor Moody, the crazy man that he is but one his gran doesn’t sneer at, doesn’t seem to realize how reluctant Neville is to be in close quarters with him after what he’d seen him do to those spiders.

Neville never wonders if this man could be his soulmate.

He also spends a lot of time with Harry, and suddenly a part of him is terrified that Harry will die when they turn seventeen, just before eighteen really. He’s terrified that Harry -- sweet, kind and kind of sassy Harry Potter -- is his soulmate, fated to die too soon.

Harry’s always getting himself into so much trouble, after all. He could’ve died at any time these last few years, but so far he’s survived. What if the luck runs out within the next few years?

The only time Neville is distracted from watching out for Harry that year is when Ginny Weasley asks him to the Yule Ball and suddenly he’s learning to dance well. Suddenly he’s got someone to dance with. And yes, he does realize she’d only asked so she could go, but she’d also promised to dance with him. That’s okay enough for him.

He still glances through the room every now and then, just to check how everyone’s doing.

When Voldemort returns, Neville would never doubt Harry’s word, he thinks his worst fears are being realized. He’s wrong, it gets worse. She’s out of Azkaban. She and her husband and his brother. Those people he wants nothing more than to cease to exist.

They are free and he has been imprisoned into a building with a just as foul woman as her.

They’re fighting, though, and Neville is getting stronger. He’ll protect Harry, it doesn’t matter if the other boy is stronger or if he’s not really his soulmate, Harry needs all the friends he can get right now, and just in case... Just in case he is.

Neville will protect him.

He doesn’t do great, but he’s there when Sirius... When Harry’s Godfather... Well. He’s there, and he might not be able to help hold Harry back or protect him properly, but Mr. Lupin -- Remus, as he’d insisted -- is there and Neville trusts that man for as long as the earth exists.

And at least the prophecy ball had been shattered before the Death Eaters or their Lord could get their hands on it. That’s one way of protecting Harry that he’d done, despite it being an accident.

Sixth year is both better and worse. Everyone believes Harry now, but everyone’s also terrified of what’ll happen next. Neville for one spends every morning keeping an eye out for great uncle Algie’s owl, or gran’s, waiting to be informed that the Lestranges have finally hunted down all of his family but him.

Professor Slughorn is strange, it bothers him a little, but the man is also persuasive. He gives Neville hope where he shouldn’t, speaks of Healers and wonders and the growing knowledge of the human mind. And Neville hopes for his parents where he never has before.

He avoids him as much as he can and prays to anything and anyone that his parents will find peace, that everyone leave them be until the death date written on their wrists.

He keeps trusting every word Harry says, even when people believe he’s fixating, and he keeps an eye on the pale boy who’d given them all so much grief before but now no longer even looks at Neville even if they’re passing each other by.

A frightening thought that maybe Draco Malfoy, possibly dying Draco Malfoy by the looks of him, is his soulmate runs away as soon as it popped into his head. There’s just no way it’s possible.

His hands shake when he learns of Dumbledores death and who holds responsibility for it. His gran had always said Dumbledore had been mad to take the man in. She’d obviously been right. Again. And every time he thinks of Severus Snape after that, it’s with disgust and anger and fear,

It’s never as a Professor or trusted adult. It’s never as a guardian.

So it is frustrating to see him as Headmaster in Neville’s seventh year, when Professor McGonagall should have held that office. Frustrating and infuriating and Neville, in Harrys, Rons and Hermiones place as well as his own, rebels.

The death date on his wrist slowly approaches, bringing anxiousness and fervent wishing with it.

It’s a battle. It’s a full out war. And people are dying every way he turns.

One of them is his soulmate, he’s sure of it. But he hasn’t felt anything yet and it’s not until he’s standing over Remus’ cooling body that he feels a pain on his wrist, an ache familiar to that of a burn.

He lifts it to look at it and the script is fading into unreadable numbers.

It doesn’t matter, he’ll never forget today anyway. He’ll never forget not getting to know who it was. Too many have died today for him to ever know now. And a large part of Neville is glad for it. He will never get to know someone only to suffer their loss with the knowledge of what they could’ve had.

He’ll never have to wake up and find an old, dead soulmate beside him on the bed. He’ll never have to bury them and remember what they’d had and never being able to get it back.

Neville will never have to suffer losing his soulmate because he’d never known them.