The Sugar Quill
Author: MadCat  Story: Neville's Triumph  Chapter: default
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“Whatever are you doing, Mr

                “Whatever are you doing, Mr. Longbottom?”

                Neville looked up at Professor Snape slowly, with trepidation. He knew all too well what was coming, when he watched his potion turn into a violent purple color just a few minutes before. Snape’s face was set in the look of malicious triumph he specially reserved for Neville and Harry as he looked into Neville’s cauldron. Scowling at the viscous liquid inside it, he snapped his head back up to look at Neville.

                “You were supposed to brew an Inflating Potion, not the bile of a Manticore. Twenty points from Gryffindor.”

                  “He’s at it again,” Harry growled, watching the whole commotion unfold two rows in front of him. Ron and Hermione quickly looked at where Harry was gazing. Indeed, Snape was tormenting Neville for the umpteenth time, and it would usually stop when Neville ran out of the dungeons, tears trickling down his face. Since the very first day of fifth-year Potions, Snape had been picking on Neville even worse then ever. Harry had, several times, been tempted to punch the professor’s face for treating Neville like an imbecile, but was just able to hold it back for fear of losing house points and earning a detention. Ron had already decided on his course of action, points or no points. Only with Hermione stopping him would he back down and simmer in his own seat.

                  Hermione, too, was outraged by the behavior of Snape, but her ever-practical sense had always overruled her impulse to go out front and confront him. Perhaps it was better to not jump into the fray, as that would cause a lot of trouble. And Hermione Granger was most certainly not fond of trouble.

                  Just then, Snape spotted a medium sized animal lurking around Neville’s legs. The latter followed his gaze, and with a soft gasp, scooped up the escaping amphibian hurriedly. A plan began to surface in Snape’s head.

                  “Hand over the toad,” Snape demanded. He snatched Trevor away with a deft hand when Neville produced the nervous amphibian. “It would make an ideal test subject for your ‘potion,’” he said, spitting out that last word like a poison.

                  The whole class rapidly quieted down and looked in the direction of the Potions Master. The ones who were also brewing the potion put out the fire underneath the cauldrons for fear of unattended boiling and melting of the cauldrons while they were focusing on something else.

                   “I will use this pitiful excuse for a pet,” began Snape, while sniggers began to issue from the Slytherins, “to test out Longbottom’s inflating potion. If all goes well, it will inflate up to three times its size. If the potion is not up to standard, which is almost inevitable, then it will - ” Here Snape paused to flash a malevolent smile, “inflate until it bursts.” This statement was met with collective gasps from the Fifth Year Gryffindors, and enthusiastic cheering from the Slytherins. It sounded very much like goblins gloating over a pile of money, to Harry.

                  “Is he mad?” Hermione squeaked, “Trevor is Neville’s closest friend! What if it dies of poisoning?”

                  “Worse still,” replied Ron, staring at Snape with unbridled fury in his eyes, “what if it gets inflated so much that it bursts?” Both cringed at the thought of Trevor’s grisly remains spread all over the classroom.

                  Everybody was now very quiet, and waiting for the application of Neville’s potion. Harry was silent and watchful, all the while restraining the anger that welled deep inside him. Something (or someone - it would most certainly be a ‘someone’ to Neville) was going to be treated like a sacrifice, and he could not do anything about it.

                  He also saw tears beginning to run down Neville’s anguished face.

                  Hermione had crossed her fingers and was now praying silently for the success of Neville’s potion. Ron himself wanted to stop this ‘exhibit’ of Snape’s.

                  Slamming Trevor on the desk, Snape took advantage of the toad’s temporary loss of consciousness to pour Neville’s potion on it, and then stepped back to watch the results. All the eyes of the people present in the room gazed intently at the toad.

                  Nothing whatsoever happened to Trevor in the first few seconds. The Slytherins were beginning to go back to their seats unhappily when a sudden shout from Seamus made them turn back and watch. Trevor was beginning to swell up. It continued to inflate, bit-by-bit, until it was the size of a fully blown balloon, and then it stopped.

                  All the Gryffindors breathed an audible sigh of relief.

                  They were just going back to their seats, when it suddenly started to inflate again, now in a faster speed than before. The students who had been standing near the toad moved quickly away from it. Trevor kept ballooning until it was the size of an eleven-year-old Dudley, at which point it burst.

                  The impact was disastrous. Trevor exploded and went into pieces. The toad’s innards and blood went splashing on all sides, and there was a scream from Parvati and Lavender as they tried desperately to clean off the dark red substance. The Slytherins were all howling with laughter, much like hyenas.

                  “This,” shouted Snape, amidst all the noise, “goes to show that your potion has failed, Mr. Longbottom. Thirty five points from Gryffindor for obvious inattentiveness and ten for the dirtying of the dungeon walls.”

                  Everybody now looked at Neville, observing his reaction. Some looked at him with scorn, and others with sympathy. Neville himself had gone wild eyed and stared straight ahead, as though in a trance, and then suddenly he knelt down upon the floor, staring at the ground. Nobody moved.

                  Snape looked down at Neville with a menacing sneer latched on to his face. “Get up, Longbottom, and stop wailing like a child. Wash the remains of your toad off the dungeon walls, and make sure it shine.”

                  The whole class had seen the entire incident and had varying degrees of reactions. Parvati and Lavender were silently sobbing, while Dean and Seamus cracked their knuckles and looked ready to pay back what Snape had done to their friend. Hermione, however, was looking at Harry and Ron worriedly. She had reason to do so too, because both were looking extremely murderous in that moment. Harry was glaring at Snape with disgust and anger written all over his face, and his emerald green eyes were shining very brightly. Ron was already shaking with suppressed rage, baring

                  If Neville would incline his head to see them, he would at least know that all his friends would stand up for him, to anything at all. But he was rendered temporarily speechless and deaf to everything going on around him.

                  The Slytherins were all snickering and pointing at the stains on the wall and the floor, marveling at it as if it was a mural. Malfoy and his two cronies were the worst. “Idiot boy is crying over something pathetic again,” drawled Malfoy. “In first year it was the Remembrall, now it’s his stupid toad. If you ask me, we should have gotten rid of it sooner. It only serves to revolt those of us who are made of better stuff than him.” Crabbe and Goyle laughed, as always, at his remark.

                  Just then, Neville stood up. The whole class silenced themselves for a second time.

                  He was facing Snape, whose sneer faltered, all the while staring at the ground. The Slytherins were ready to begin making fun of him again when he opened his mouth.

                  “You killed him.”

                 The sentence was not uttered in fear, but in great fury. Neville looked up at Snape. The Potions Master took a step backward in surprise. Neither he, nor the class, had ever seen the boy that enraged before.

                  However, Snape regained his composure quickly. “And why not?” he replied. “It was only a pathetic creature. It is not worth anything.”                                                                             

                 The animosity reached a breaking point with his words. The Gryffindors practically bared their teeth while the Slytherins were grinning with the sides of their mouth almost reaching their eyes.


                   Feeling the Gryffindors move closer behind him, and Harry’s hand come to rest on his shoulder, Neville found an enormous well of courage to push his assault. With a forceful edge to his words, he said in a small voice:                             

                  “You are no better than Voldemort.”

                  Startled gasps were echoed all around as Snape himself took a step back. Steely resolve then settled into him and he took his wand out.  “This has gone too far,” he snarled, “I will bring you to your head of house, who will give one of the worst detentions ever.”

                  He raised his wand up above his head, preparing to cast the Stunning spell, but for once, Neville was quicker than him. Raising his own wand, he moved to disarm Snape. “EXPELLIARMUS!” he roared, and instead of just disarming Snape, he was unexpectedly thrown towards the dungeon wall. With a loud ‘crack’, all the breath in Snape’s body escaped him. His wand was sent clattering onto the cold stone floor.

                  Neville rounded on the Slytherins, who went out of the dungeon as fast as they could. The Gryffindors, however, stayed behind to congratulate him on his victory over the Potions Master. Everybody applauded, with Seamus and Dean giving catcalls. Ron shook hands with him, yelling, “That’s bloody brilliant! How did you do it?” And Hermione, true to her studious personality, commended him on his excellent wandwork, but a hint of a smile was evident. Parvati and Lavender cheered in a manner not unlike the fans in a Quidditch match. But Neville just stared at the ground, oblivious to the chaos around him. His hands were clenched, and tears were starting to fall again.

                  He would have broken down and cried, if Harry had not put an arm around him for comfort. He leaned closer and said, “You are a true Gryffindor, Neville.” Neville looked with red-rimmed eyes at the face of The Boy Who Lived, and was surprised to see confidence and pride in his eyes.

                  Gratitude and pride seeped into his soul, and he felt then that he could face five Snapes simultaneously, anytime.

                  Eventually, the Gryffindors left, and the only person remaining was Snape, sitting on the floor with his back against the wall. He had been conscious the whole time, and nobody had bothered to even notice him. He winced as he tested the movement of his limbs. ‘Longbottom certainly has proven himself this time,’ he thought. He would no longer be the weak-minded boy he once was, and Snape knew that it would be an aid of sorts for Neville in these approaching dark times. Blood was beginning to trickle down from his forehead. As he rested for a while, a wry smile materialized on his face.

                   “A hundred and fifteen points to Gryffindor.”

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