When Neville is given his father's Pensieve, he has a decision to make.
It took him a minute to figure out what it was. He had overheard Harry and Hermione talking about them, but he had never seen one himself. Then, a thought popped into his mind, quickly growing into full-fledged excitement. He took his wand out and tapped at the dull basin of the Pensieve. Nothing happened. He thought for a minute, then tapped at it with his finger. Nothing. After several minutes of poking and prodding the Pensieve, he slumped in his chair. His father had left it empty.
The Pensieve now rested on his nightstand, next to a stack of books he had Owled away for. Plumbing the Depths of Your Pensieve. Your Pensieve and You. Pensieves: Guarding Your Privacy. Gum wrappers marked several places in the heavy tomes. He had told Gran he needed them for some summer reading he had been assigned, and she hadn't asked any questions. His deception gnawed at him, but if she knew what he was thinking, she would take the Pensieve away.
He kept staring at it. He had practiced using it the past few days, guided by the books. He could quickly transfer memories back and forth from his head to the Pensieve now with little thought. How quickly he learned without someone hovering over him, waiting for every mistake.
But he was still paralyzed by the thought of what he was about to do. Would he be able to go through with it, and if so, would he be able to do it without messing it up? More importantly, was it the right thing to do? His toad hopped on his bed, pulling him out of his thoughts. "Oy, Trevor, you startled me." He picked the toad up, holding him close. "You'd want to know, wouldn't you? If you had the chance to know what your parents were really like, you'd take it, wouldn't you?"
The next day, when Gran told him she would be spending the day with some of her witch friends, Neville knew it was time. As soon as she Apparated off in her fox-fur scarf and green robes, he gathered up the satchel he'd stuck the Pensieve in and headed to St. Mungo's.
As he walked through the window of the red-brick building, his doubts returned. He didn't even know if this was going to work - he knew from the books that you could take other people's memories for a Pensieve, but he had gotten the impression that it was always with consent. How could you borrow memories from someone without their consent? Or without even knowing which memories you would be borrowing?
He headed up to the fourth floor, still not entirely sure he would be able to go through with it. He pushed open the door to the Janus Thickey ward and walked toward where his parents stayed, passing Gilderoy Lockhart and a witch named Agnes on the way.
He paused for a moment at the sight of his mother, who was sitting in a chair next to her bed. It always depressed him, coming here and seeing her like this. Her face was thin and worn, nothing like the photographs he'd seen of her when she was younger. Her gray wispy hair was tied back with a ribbon today, and she was unconsciously working on a chain of gum wrappers. She looked up at him as he walked over, a slow smile appearing on her face.
"Hello, Mum. How are you doing today?"
Neville didn't really expect an answer after all these years, yet he always waited a few seconds before going on.
"Mum, I ... Gran gave me Dad's old Pensieve. I really wish he had left a memory in it, before ... Well, I just really wish I knew what you and he were like. I wish you could tell me stories of how you two met, how it was when I was born. I miss you, and I never got to know you ..."
Neville trailed off and looked down at his feet.
"I know you don't know what I'm saying, but I just want to have a memory of you that isn't ... this. And I know if you could answer me, you would say it's OK."
He reached into his bag and set the Pensieve on the table next to her bed. This part worried him. He didn't know what sort of memory he would be able to draw out -- he figured it would be whatever was closest to the surface of his Mum's mind. Part of him was terrified that it would be of her last lucid moments, of the pain of the Cruciatus curse.
He leaned down to look into his Mum's eyes.
"Mum, if you can understand me, I want you to think ... to think of a happy memory, your happiest memory."
She looked back at him, and for a second, he thought he saw something flicker in her eyes. Then it was gone.
He drew out his wand and placed the tip near her temple and concentrated, drawing out a silvery rope. He moved the wand to the shallow basin of the Pensieve, placing the memory in it, where the liquidy smoke swirled about. His mother didn't even seem to notice what had happened.
Looking around, he saw that no one else had noticed, either. He turned and stood in front of the Pensieve, and summoning up all of his courage, he touched the surface with his finger.
Once he got his bearings, Neville looked around. He was standing in a spring garden, bursting with color. His Mum was sitting nearby on a blanket that had been tossed haphazardly on the ground. His eyes grew wide -- his mother's stomach was very round, very pregnant. This must be a month or two before he was born! She had her face turned up toward the sun, soaking it in. Her hands and face were streaked with dirt, and a gardening trowel lay nearby. Neville's gaze broke away from his mother as he heard his father walk into the garden.
"Now what have I told you about working in the garden in your condition? You're supposed to be resting!" Frank looked at his wife adoringly, and bent down to kiss her nose.
"I couldn't help it -- it's just so beautiful out here this time of year. And soon enough I won't even be able to get out of a chair on my own, let alone work in the garden. And then I'll have to head back to work with you," Alice responded. Then she suddenly thought of something. "Did you get my gum?"
"This was all I could find," Frank said. He handed her a bag of pink gumballs.
"But Honey, you know I've been craving Droobles since the first week I was pregnant! I can't believe I ran out this morning!" Alice looked like she was about to cry.
Frank knelt down and folded Alice into his arms. "I'm sorry, Sweet, but there must have been a run on Droobles at Honeydukes. I'll send a special owl out and you should have some by dinner." He kissed the top of her head.
"It's OK. I'm sorry I'm being so weepy. It's just been hard recently ... with all these attacks going on, and you going out in it while I have to stay here. And I can't wait for our son to be born ... he's kicking around in there a lot lately. He's going to be a fighter, our Eugene," Alice said, snuggling into his arms. He pulled back, smiling.
"Wait just a minute -- I thought we already agreed on a name. Now you want to change it again?"
She grinned at him. "I just wanted to mess with you a bit. No, I think Neville is a fine name for our son. Our brave, wonderful, sweet son. And I can't wait to see him."
The memory ended there, and Neville was suddenly jarred back into real life. Tears were streaming down his face, and he looked at his mother with new eyes. He bent down and wrapped her in a tight hug, and after a moment, she tentatively hugged him back. As he pulled away, she grabbed his hand and placed an empty Droobles Best Blowing Gum wrapper in it.