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There were 2 boys who fit the prophecy - Harry Potter; and the other one - Neville Longbottom, as per the Prof. Dumblefore.

Lord Voldemort himself went after Harry Potter.

A little bit later, his main second in command (Lestrange) went after Longbottoms - supposedly, to torture them into revealing the location of disappeared Lord Voldemort.

Is there any support in the books for a possibility that it was just a cover, and instead it was meant to be a (failed) planned ahead hit on Neville the baby, as a backup to killing Harry Potter?

  • 1
    For transparency: I didn't invent that possibility - it was mentioned in a discussion on a Harry Potter fan web site at some point. Seemed logical to an extent, if a bit unorthodox – Silver Fox Aug 6 '12 at 23:54
  • Voldy knew about another wizard that could oppose him (which was Neville), he just didn't knew who it was. Alas, he did knew that the Potters had thrice defied him, and that's why he assumedthe prophecy was about Harry, when in fact, it was about whomever Voldy chose to target. The attack on the Longbottoms was just a purge – Oak May 19 '14 at 0:07
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There are 2 reasons to reject this particular possibility (which is actually, as far as I can tell, a popular fandom conspiracy theory - see #2. Guess you were not the only one who found it logical for it to end up as a FAQ on JKR website :)

  1. During Battle of Hogwarts, Voldemort asks about Neville (who he is) and basically treats him same as any other pureblood DA kid, not as a possible archnemesis. This is from the books, as you requested.

  2. Moreover, Word of God. JKR herself said so. From now-defunct "J.K.Rowling Official Site", FAQ area, "Section: Rumours":

The Lestranges were sent after Neville to kill him (rumor)

No, they weren’t, they were very definitely sent after Neville’s parents. I can’t say too much about this because it touches too closely on the prophecy and how many people knew about it, but the Lestranges were not in on the secret.

(source: WaybackMachine link)

6

The Dark Lord had certainly known that Neville Longbottom was the other boy who fits the words of prophecy. This is proved by a chat with J. K. Rowling in 2007. Quoting Rowling's words from that chat.

Oh, I love Neville so much. Always loved Neville. And I always saw, I always had big plans for Neville. And he really was the boy it could have been. Because, as you know, as I make clear, he was born hours before Harry. He was born on the thirtieth of July. Voldemort singled him out as the other possibility.

This, of course, does not tell whether the Dark Lord ever thought Neville was the Chosen One over Harry.

(Thanks to alexwlchan for pointing to that particular chat.)

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