Chapter Two: The Revenge of Neville Longbottom
It was the first Monday of November. Neville Longbottom hated Mondays
because that was the day the Fat Lady changed the password to Gryffindor
Tower. He was lost in thought trying to remember whether it was "poppycock"
or "jigglypiggly" when he barreled into someone. Not just someone-- Professor
Snape. Why me? As Neville’s books and parchments flew in every
direction, he steeled himself for the inevitable.
"Mr. Longbottom," Snape began disdainfully, "can't a person walk down
a corridor without being assaulted by someone too stupid to watch where
they are going?"
Neville lowered his head, wishing the castle's stone floor would open
up and swallow him whole. "I-I'm sorry."
"You are without a doubt the clumsiest, most inept creature it has been
my displeasure to be associated with. How you ever got into this school
is an utter mystery to me. I remember a time when Hogwarts admitted only
the cream of wizarding society, now they'll let anyone in. I'm deducting
ten points from Gryffindor for your negligence. Perhaps that will teach
you to be more careful in the future."
As soon as Snape marched away, Neville knelt down and gathered his belongings,
tears stinging his eyes. He felt someone watching him and looked up with
a start. To his relief, it was only Professor Stanley. She held out her
hand and helped him to his feet.
"Are you all right?" she asked as she handed him a handkerchief.
He shrugged, embarrassed. "You’d think after five years I’d be used to
Professor Stanley's warm brown eyes flashed with anger. "You mean to
tell me this happens on a regular basis?"
Neville nodded despairingly. "Usually just in Potions class. Please don't
say anything, it'll just make it worse."
"But Neville, I can help you."
Memories of Professor Lupin and the consequences of the Boggart Snape
dressed like Neville's grandmother came rushing back. Like Lupin, he was
certain Professor Stanley meant well, but whatever she had in mind was
bound to make his life miserable. "Promise me you won't interfere."
Reluctantly, Stanley nodded. "I promise."
Veronica's anger did not diminish one bit as she sat at the staff table
at dinner moving her food around her plate with her fork. Once or twice
she had to suppress the desire to stick her fork-- or some other sharp
object-- into Professor Snape's flesh. Of course, that might make her
feel a little better, but it certainly wouldn't help Neville.
Snape ceased to be the mildly amusing thorn in her side he'd been during
her first two months teaching at Hogwarts. She realized she was only now
seeing him for what he really was-- a cruel bully. And bullies were one
thing Veronica refused to tolerate. Unwelcome memories invaded her thoughts
of another Slytherin Head of House, Professor Balin. I wonder what
else Snape is doing when others aren't looking?
"Is there something bothering you, my dear?" Professor Sprout asked.
"I'm fine," Veronica lied. "What makes you think there's something wrong?"
"Well, you haven't eaten a thing and you just violently impaled an innocent
Veronica looked down at her plate and saw that she had indeed plunged
her fork as far as it would go into the poor, unsuspecting vegetable.
She wanted to tell Sprout about Neville's problem, but was bound by her
promise to the boy not to. "It's nothing, really."
She tried to put it out of her mind, but with no success. Then she had
an idea that would protect Neville and possibly solve the whole problem.
As Headmaster Dumbledore left the Great Hall after dinner, she asked to
speak to him privately.
"Of course, Veronica," he said as he took her arm and led her to his
office. "I've been meaning to have a word with you, as well."
Veronica had only been in Dumbledore's office once before, when she interviewed
for the position of Defense Against the Dark Arts professor. She never
had occasion to come here as a student. The beautiful Phoenix, Fawkes
watched her with interest from his perch. However, the portraits of previous
headmasters and headmistresses were too busy dozing to pay her any mind.
As Dumbledore made her a cup of tea, she caught a glimpse of a Pensieve
sitting on a shelf in a locked glass case. Unlike the one she'd been carrying
around with her for the past two years, this one was full of silvery-liquid
memories. With some effort, she pushed that bit of unfinished business
to the back of her mind. Thankfully, she had other things to worry about
at the moment.
Dumbledore handed her a cup of tea and settled in an overstuffed chair
across from her.
"Headmaster," she began, "I have a hypothetical situation I'd like to
run by you, if you don't mind. Sort of a moral dilemma."
"Veronica, I insist you call me Albus."
She still felt a bit like a young girl around this man who had always
been larger than life, but smiled and nodded. "Thank you, Albus."
"Before we get to your problem, I must tell you that I am most pleased
with your work. The students like you-- well, most of them anyway." Dumbledore
grinned wryly. It was unnecessary to mention where the complaints were
coming from. "And you're teaching them practical defense methods without
encouraging recklessness. I know you only agreed to stay for two terms,
but you have a position here for as long as you want it."
"Thank you, sir-- Albus. I must admit compliments like that will make
it harder for me to leave when the year's out." Nothing could be farther
from the truth. She was only here as a favor to Professor Sprout to help
boost Hufflepuff morale after last year's tragedy. Besides, the Diggorys
were friends of the family. It was only right for her to do something
to prevent any more students from getting hurt. She couldn't wait to get
back to the safety of the Institute. Hogwarts hadn't been a safe place
for her since she was fifteen.
"Well, perhaps if Professor Sprout and I work on you a little you'll
agree to stay," he said with a twinkle in his eye. "It would be so nice
not to have to search for another replacement when the position is already
aptly filled. Now, what was it that you wanted to ask me about?"
She chose her words carefully. "First, what do you think of bullies?"
Dumbledore raised an eyebrow. "In general, or did you have someone specific
Veronica was tempted to mention Snape by name, but was determined to
remain true to her promise. "In general."
"Well, I don't like them-- generally speaking."
"I was hoping you'd say that." She put down her teacup and leaned toward
him. "Now, for my hypothetical situation. Say there is a bully who is
victimizing a particularly vulnerable individual, someone ill-equipped
to defend himself."
"A distressing situation indeed," he said.
"Very. Now, say there is another person who has developed an experimental,
but quite effective Anti-Bully Charm. So far it only works on verbal abuse,
but in this case it would be sufficient. Don't you think this person is
morally obligated to teach this charm to the poor soul who is being victimized?"
He furrowed his brow in confusion. "Of course, but I'm not quite sure
why you feel you need my permission, unless..." Then a look of realization
suddenly crossed the Headmaster's face. "We're not talking about just
any bully are we?"
Veronica smiled devilishly . "Hypothetically-- no."
Dumbledore sighed heavily. "You're certain your charm will not backfire
on this particularly vulnerable individual?"
"It won't, I promise."
"Nor cause any permanent damage to the bully?"
She scowled. "No, unfortunately."
"Then, Veronica, you must do what you think is right."
The next day, Veronica asked Neville to stay after class. "I know you
asked me not to interfere with your situation with Professor Snape, but
I have a new charm that I know will solve the problem once and for all.
I've already spoken to the Headmaster and he said it was all right for
me to teach it to you. Don't worry, I didn't mention you by name."
Neville sighed, visibly appreciative and annoyed at the same time. "I
know you're trying to help, but I'm a complete washout when it comes to
magic. I'm sure I couldn't make the charm work. Professor Snape is right,
I am useless."
"Now, I'll not have talk like that," she said firmly. "I don't know how,
but people like Professor Snape seem to know exactly what to say to make
a person feel awful about themselves. It doesn't make what they say true.
You're doing just fine in my class and Professor Sprout tells me you're
one of her best students."
"But that's just Herbology," he protested.
"Just Herbology?! I couldn't make mold grow on a piece of stale
bread if I tried," Veronica told him. "I was the worst, you just
ask Professor Sprout if I wasn't. It takes a special kind of person to
cultivate living things."
He flushed with pride. "This charm of yours, it's pretty good?"
Veronica lit up like a child with a shiny new toy. "At the risk of sounding
immodest, it's bloody brilliant! He won't know what hit him."
Neville's face broke out in a broad smile. "When do we start?"
Professor Snape dreaded Potions class with the fifth-year Gryffindors
almost as much as the students did. Potter, Weasley, Granger and Longbottom
were the reasons why. Longbottom especially irritated him in a way even
Harry Potter couldn't. In the back of his mind, he knew it was because
Longbottom was a constant reminder of past sins Snape could never hope
to atone for. By the time Longbottom's parents had been attacked, Voldemort
had been vanquished and Snape was teaching at Hogwarts. Mrs. Chitterlow,
the Auror's wife he brutally murdered, wasn't Longbottom's mother, but
she could have been. A part of him knew that taking it out on the boy
was dreadfully unfair, but Snape was a dreadfully unfair man.
As if on cue, Snape heard a loud crash come from the Gryffindor side
of the classroom. Longbottom had knocked over a bottle of Culrage extract.
"Professor Snape," said Ron Weasley, "don't blame Neville. I accidentally
"Shut up, Weasley," he snapped.
Perhaps it was because Snape had bullied Longbottom so many times in
the past that he didn't notice that Neville did not have the familiar
look of panic in his eyes as Snape approached. Instead he had an expectant,
almost excited, expression on his face.
"Mr. Longbottom, have you ever been in a room for more that ten minutes
without breaking something? Your blundering incompetence is a hazard to
wizarding society!" Almost instantly, Snape heard his cruel words reverberate
against the walls of the dungeon and then pound in his ears. He was assailed
by paralyzing feelings of anger and fear. He scanned the faces of the
other students. They didn't seem to be experiencing what he was.
He turned back to Neville and found the boy regarding him with a triumphant
expression that said, 'you can't hurt me anymore.'
Snape's rage began to swell again, but something told him it would be
unwise to lash out at Longbottom a second time. He swallowed his vitriolic
comments and said as gingerly as he could, "Just be more careful next
time." He couldn't even bring himself to assign detention; the fear was
The entire class was staring at him in confusion. Potter and Weasley
looked from Neville to Snape and back again, large grins breaking out
on their faces. Snape wanted to shout at them, but was too terrified.
He sat down and mumbled, "Everyone, just get back to work." He hid his
hands under the desk so the students wouldn't see that they were trembling.
Snape had never heard of a charm or curse that could have this sort of
an affect on a person. Longbottom was incapable of performing even the
simplest of spells; it was ridiculous to think he could have come up with
this himself. There was only one person who could be responsible for this
outrage-- Professor Stanley. That bitch!
Only after class was dismissed and Longbottom was out of sight could
Snape regained control of himself. He stamped to Professor Stanley’s office
and banged loudly on the door.
She was sitting at her desk and reading the Daily Prophet while
munching on a biscuit. "Ha!" she cried out happily as she read out
loud, "'Chudley Cannons Defeat Falmouth Falcons!'" She looked up at Snape
as if he’d been there the entire time. "Do you think the Cannons will
win the League this time?"
"I didn’t come here to discuss Quidditch." Her nonchalant demeanor was
pathetically transparent. Her wand was sitting out on her desk. She had
been expecting him.
She jumped up out of her chair. "In that case, I've been meaning to ask
if you're any good with brooms?" She picked up her broken broom and tried
to hand it to him, but he just stood there with arms folded getting angrier
by the minute.
"What have you been teaching Neville Longbottom?" he demanded, his rage
boiling just below the surface.
She shrugged casually as she propped the pieces of her broom against
the wall. "Nothing of any consequence. Just a little Anti-Bully Charm
Snape used the fact that he was more than a head taller than Stanley
to his benefit. He loomed over her in his most intimidating posture. "How
dare you teach a student to use magic against me-- especially in
front of other students!"
She stood on her toes in an unsuccessful attempt to neutralize his height
advantage. "How dare you use your position of authority to demean that
boy! Do you like to drown kittens and kick sick puppies, too?"
Stanley's uncharacteristic show of anger was a strange contrast to her
usual, irritatingly cheerful disposition, but Snape was determined she
would not confound him this time. "That," he snarled, "is beside the point!
Dumbledore will hear about this and you'll be out on your--!"
"He already knows," she told him. "He gave me his tacit approval before
I taught the Anti-Bully Charm to Neville. It's about time we Spares started
"Spares?" he asked in bewilderment. "What are you talking about?"
"I am referring to what Voldemort said right before he had Cedric Diggory
murdered. He told his lackey to 'Kill the spare'. It was in the 'unofficial'
Ministry report. When I read that I thought to myself, that sums it up
perfectly. We-- the Hufflepuffs, the Neville Longbottoms of the world--
are the Spares. The Insignificant and Expendable. Well, I think I speak
for all the Spares when I say that we are bloody sick of it and we're
not going to tolerate it anymore!"
Finally, he was beginning to see her for the cunning, deceitful creature
she really was. "Now, I understand why my Slytherins have been getting
second-rate treatment from you. I don't care what Dumbledore said, I'll
have you sacked if it's the last thing I do!"
"Oh dear, the poor defenseless Slytherins," she said, clutching her heart
in feigned concern. "Your little group I lovingly refer to as the Death
Eaters of Tomorrow are not the ones in need of protection! Your old Head
of House, Professor Balin would be so proud to see how you've followed
in his footsteps."
"What?!" She might as well have slapped his face, it probably
would have hurt less. "What did you just say?"
"Your attitude, the wonderful way you deal with students-- you're just
Snape took a few steps towards her. He must have looked as furious as
he felt because she retreated slightly and actually seemed a little frightened.
"You don't know anything about me," he told her in a low, deadly tone.
"Go to hell!" Snape then turned on his heel and left her office.