the Spitting Toad, continued
Beaker and Katie Bell
See authors’ notes and disclaimers at Prologue / Chapter
Chapter 2: A Trophy and a Cauldron
quiet!” Cornelius Fudge called out yet again. “This is an inquiry, not a
sporting event!” He glared at Fred and George Weasley, who had just high-fived
each other at the audience’s response to their surprising statement.
you claim that a pet toad spat up Mr. Bagman’s trophy?” Fudge raised his
right,” Fred and George replied in unison.
this isn’t a joke. Lying during testimony is a punishable offense,” Fudge
not lying!” Fred shook his head. “That’s what happened!”
my disbelief, but aren’t pet toads much smaller than the trophy on this
table?” Fudge asked.
they are at that,” Fred nodded. “But Trevor isn’t an ordinary toad, from what
we can tell.”
we can’t believe Neville kept him secret from us all these years!” George made
a nasty (though not unfriendly) face at Neville, who was waiting his turn in
the front row.
right,” Fudge replied. “Let’s assume for the moment that you boys are telling
the truth. So how did it happen?”
George began, “we’d noticed how Neville was suddenly so popular, especially
with the ladies…”
he even went off to be alone with Angelina, and she’s supposed to be my girl!”
Fred exclaimed in mock outrage. “What could she see in Longbottom?”
he doesn’t look like you, for starters,” George replied. Fred punched him on
the arm. George continued, “Seriously, though, she was the fourth one I’d seen
walk off with Neville that week. We wondered what was up. I’d noticed a lot of
people who didn’t used to give Longbottom the time of day were going out of
their way to talk to him. I couldn’t figure out what made him so popular—”
and if you could figure that out, George, maybe you’d have gotten a date to the
Yule Ball, too.” This time it was George’s turn to punch Fred on the arm.
frowned. “Would you two please restrict your comments to the subject at hand?”
sir,” Fred answered, trying to sound contrite. “Anyway, like George was saying,
we thought it must have something to do with that toad of his. He used to ditch
the idiot thing in his dormitory all the time, but now he never let it out of
his sight. And when we tried to ask him about it, he took the toad and ran. So
George says to me, ‘It’s time for us to do a little investigating. What say we
get hold of Trevor and keep him for a night, see what happens?’ And so we did.”
when you ‘got hold’ of this toad, what happened?” Fudge inquired.
nothing at first,” George admitted. “He didn’t seem to be any different than
his plain old, boring, warty toad self.” Up in the front row, Neville looked
offended at this description of his pet. “So Fred and me took him up to our
dormitory—that’s different from Neville’s dorm, he’s in a different year—and we
put him in a box on the floor between our beds so he wouldn’t hop away at
Fred agreed. “You never know when a hostage might come in handy. Plus we were
thinking of having some fun before we gave him back to Neville—maybe turn him
into a prince first, or try out our Ton-Tongue toffee on him. I mean, a toad’s
tongue is pretty long to begin with, imagine what it would be if we fed him a
cut in. “But then I reminded Fred that we still hadn’t figured out what we were
going to try on Bagman next, and kidnapping Trevor made me think that maybe we
could nick something important of Bagman's—”
just when George said that, Trevor burped—”
it was a bang-up, enormous belch, too,” George added. “Really classic. The
I said to Trevor, ‘you’ve really got to mind your manners there, froggie
we look down, and there’s Bagman’s trophy, right there on the bottom of the box
with Trevor, nice as you please!” George finished triumphantly.
you see, we really didn’t take the trophy, so it really wasn’t our fault,” Fred
added. Both boys appealed to the audience with wide, innocent-looking eyes, and
were rewarded with warm chuckles all around.
Fudge simply waited for quiet this time. When it came, he said, “Very well. I
will not ask what your interests are with regard to Mr. Bagman or why you are,
as you put it, ‘trying things’ on him. But his trophy will be returned
following this inquiry.” In the audience, Ludo Bagman looked noticeably
relieved. Fudge continued. “The witnesses are dismissed. You may return to your
seats. I call Mr. Neville Longbottom to testify.”
and George went back to their seats in the front row, slapping Neville so hard
on the back as they passed that he stumbled on his way to one of the chairs.
state your name and occupation for the record,” Fudge said.
I, I’m Newell—I mean, Neville…Neville Longbottom, sir, and I’m a, a, a—”
old witch in a green dress and a vulture-topped hat stood up from a row halfway
to the back of the room. “He’s Neville Longbottom, Fudge, you gump, and by some
miracle he is still a Hogwarts student in spite of his marks. Furthermore, he’s
underage and you have no right to interrogate him without my granting
peered up at the witch who had shouted at him. “Mrs. Longbottom, what are you
doing back there? You should be sitting down front with the other witnesses.”
not going to be a witness for this three-ring circus! But I am standing up for
my grandson’s rights, even if he won’t!”
sighed and rubbed the side of his head. “Very well, Hortense. Do you give
permission as legal guardian for your grandson, Neville, to testify about this
Mrs. Longbottom replied. “What are you asking me for? He can think for himself
now. And if he can’t, well then he jolly well needs to practice. I’m just about
done doing any more thinking for him, after these shenanigans. And don’t you
‘Hortense’ me, Fudge! It’s ‘Mrs. Longbottom’ to you!” Neville’s grandmother sat
take that as a yes,” Fudge replied. He turned back to Neville, who right now
looked as if he wished he’d been born a Muggle. “Mr. Longbottom,” Fudge began,
“please tell the assembly anything unusual you’ve noticed about your pet toad.”
Neville gulped, “he’s been acting, uh…kind of odd,” he finished in a near-whisper.
on, son,” Fudge said kindly, “it’s all right. But please speak up so everyone
can hear you.”
right. Well, I noticed over the summer that he wasn’t looking well—”
on earth could you tell, Neville?” Fred Weasley called out. “Did he play dead
twenty-four hours a day instead of twenty-three?” The audience burst out
is enough, young man!” Fudge shouted over the noise in the room. He leaned
toward Fred and George menacingly. “Now you are harassing a witness! One more
inappropriate remark and I will have to ask you both to leave this room!”
that’s it then, Fred, we don’t want to miss this, do we?” George asked.
we do not!” Fred shook his head. “We’ll be good, Minister, we promise.”
on, Neville,” Fudge encouraged.
all right, I’m used to it,” Neville shrugged. He actually looked a lot more
relaxed than he had before Fred’s interruption. “So anyway, Trevor wasn’t
looking well, so I got him some Toad Tonic, but other than that, nothing
strange happened until after I got to school.” Neville stopped suddenly.
what happened there?” Fudge prompted.
the first time I noticed it was in Potions the first week. But I didn’t connect
it to Trevor at first.” Neville stopped again.
on, Neville. Tell us what happened,” Fudge prompted.
not really supposed to bring our animals to class unless we’re asked to.”
Neville glanced nervously at his Head of House, Minerva McGonagall, who was
seated in the front row with the students. “But Professor Snape makes me so
nervous, I’d been keeping Trevor in my pocket during Potions, just for moral
support, you know?”
leaned over to his Fred and whispered, “Trevor is his teddy bear!”
went badly for me that day. Well, Potions always goes bad for me. It’s my worst
subject. But that day was worse than usual. I melted another cauldron and I saw
Snape—Professor Snape—coming over to see what was going on. So I was patting
Trevor in my pocket, to try and cheer myself up, and saying to myself that if
I’d kept a spare cauldron in my school bag, maybe I could hide the melted one
from Snape. Then suddenly there was another cauldron in my pocket.”
me, son,” Fudge asked. “Isn’t a school cauldron much too large to fit in your
yes,” Neville admitted. “It wasn’t so much in my pocket as under my school
robes—the pocket tore off and everything fell on the floor, Trevor too. But
there it was, another cauldron. I couldn’t believe my luck. I tried to switch
it for the one that was melted, before Snape—Professor Snape—got over to my
table. But I burned my hands moving the melted one—I forgot to put on a mitt to
pick it up. So of course I dropped it on the floor. Professor Snape gave me
detention for being clumsy, ruining my own property, and taking school property
without permission. Professor Snape said I must have stolen the new one out of
his storeroom, but I didn’t, I swear it!”
Snape, yes. I met him when I visited the school late last spring.” Fudge looked
thoughtful. “So you received detention from your teacher?”
and it was horrible!” Neville paled. “I
had to pull all the guts out of a barrel full of horned toads! If I’d known
that’s what was in store for me, I would have left Trevor back in Gryffindor
Tower! Poor thing was right there in my pocket the whole time. I still don’t
know if he ever forgave me for doing it.” Fred and George Weasley exchanged
glances, rolling their eyes.
said you didn’t connect this innocent—I mean, incident—with your pet at
first?” Fudge inquired.
sir,” Neville answered. “Not until later, when other things started turning up
was next?” Fudge asked.
I’m not sure, really,” Neville replied. “I noticed that I didn’t seem to be
forgetting things as much as I used to, only instead of being in my bag where
they belonged, they were in my pocket with Trevor. Little things, like quills
and ink. I’d be digging in my bag and noticing them missing, and then I’d find
them in my pocket. But it didn’t happen the days that I left Trevor in the
dormitory. So I started carrying him about with me all the time. I thought he
was bringing me luck, or helping me to remember stuff by keeping me calm.”
did you figure out that your toad was directly involved?” Fudge asked.
was when I was playing Exploding Snap with Dean and Seamus.” Neville was
looking nervous again. “Can I go back now? They can tell you what happened as
well as I can.”
well, son, you may take a break,” Fudge consented. “But I’ll want you back
later. I call Mr. Dean Thomas and Mr. Seamus Finnigan to testify.”