The Sugar Quill
Author: Phoenix's Melody  Story: Bubble Gum Decorations  Chapter: Default
The distribution of this story is for personal use only. Any other form of distribution is prohibited without the consent of the author.

Bubble Gum Decorations

Disclaimer: I do not own anything you see in this story.  Everything is the property of Ms. J.K. Rowling, including the characters and plotline.  I have borrowed dialogue from pages 512 to 515 (Order of the Phoenix, American edition).  Considering I have no money, please do not sue me — it would be a waste of my time and yours.

 

Anything else?

 

Oh!  Also, I need to say thanks to Beth (my Sugar Quill editor), Ruth (who encouraged me to write & gave me great feedback), Aleksey (who pointed me in the direction of Sugar Quill) and Miss Rasha (who told me about the existence of fan fiction).  Thanks so much!  Now, please enjoy!

 

Bubble Gum Decorations

 

I suppose I’ve always dreaded Christmas holidays.  That’s when Gran takes me to see my parents in St. Mungo’s hospital.  They live there because they’re incapacitated.  That’s just the nice word for insane.  Tortured by Death Eaters until they were insane…  Don’t get me wrong, I love my mum and dad with all of my heart.  It’s just…it just breaks my heart to see them like that: broken minds and spirits.  I’ve never told anyone at school about them.  I don’t want them to be laughed at because my dad drools sometimes and my mum stares at nothing for hours on end.  Sometimes they just start screaming like little children because they’re reliving that night.

When Gran and I visit, they recognize that I’m their son, which is a comfort, but even then they shy away from me when I reach out to hug them and never talk.  I know they love me; Dad hums lullaby songs off-key whenever I’m around and Mum, well, Mum gives me things: scrapes of paper, bits of string, candy wrappers in particular.  Gran usually tells me to throw them away, but I can’t.  I keep them because, well, because they remind me that my parents love me with all of their hearts even if they can’t tell me.  I look at the little trinkets often and wonder if they would still be so proud of me if they knew about my ridiculous grades at school.

This year might have been the worst so far yet.  When Gran and I arrived at St. Mungo’s, the Healer in charge of my parents was, well, nice and cheery, perfectly in the holiday spirit.  I felt the exact opposite.  Professor Snape had made some more nasty comments about me during the last Potions class, especially after I misread the directions on the blackboard and added crushed beetles instead of powered moonstone into my potion.  How can I help it that I can’t read the blackboard when the whole room is filled with smoke?  Why in Merlin’s name does he hate me so much?  I know it isn’t just because I’m a Gryffindor.  I don’t need him to tell me I’m an idiot when it comes to Potions.  So far, I think everyone’s been lucky that I haven’t managed to blow up anyone or anything — other than my cauldrons.  O.W.L.s were also coming up, and no matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t seem to make anything I studied stick in my head.  Gran’s always telling everyone how I’m never going to be as good as my dad in magic, how I’m going to fail at everything.  I wish she wouldn’t do that, but she’s right I suppose.  I imagine if I fail to even get a few O.W.L.s it will be no surprise or disappointment to anyone.

Anyway, the visit was normal at first, Dad sang a few songs, and he even tacked on a few carols too.  Mum gave me a few candy wrappers; Droobles Blowing Gum wrappers to be exact.  I told them I loved them and a little bit about school — all of it positive of course.  Gran doesn’t tolerate self-pity.  I even managed to tell them how I was mastering some of the spells that Harry’s been teaching us in D.A. class without Gran realizing that I was breaking school rules to do so.

Then came time to go — and I still burn with horror every time I think about it.  Gran and I were on our way out of the ward when the Healer said, “And — oh, Mrs. Longbottom, are you leaving already?”  A split second later, I heard an unexpected voice call out, “Neville!”

I jumped and cowered, thinking for a brief moment that Professor Snape was about to yell at me again.  Then I realized who had called my name and I wished that I was anywhere else other than the hospital ward.  It was Ron Weasley and with him were Ginny, Hermione and Harry.  My classmates in the same room with my parents…it was a nightmare.  I can recall every second of it with clarity, which is unusual for me, I’ll admit to that.

“It’s us, Neville!” said Ron brightly as he stood up from his seat.  “Have you seen?  Lockhart’s here!  Who’ve you been visiting?”

I’d known where Lockhart had been for the past three years.  But I didn’t say anything.  My mind rapidly raced through all the ways that I could get out of this situation with the minimal amount of embarrassment to myself and to my parents.

“Friends of yours, Neville, dear?” Gran asked me as she walked towards them.  I wanted to dig a hole and disappear.

“Ah, yes,” Gran was beginning to introduce herself and sooner or later she would find out that I had not told anyone about Mum and Dad’s condition.  I looked down at my shoes, not daring to meet my friends’ eyes.

“Yes, Neville’s told me all about you.  Helped him out of a few sticky spots, haven’t you?  He’s a good boy, but he hasn’t got his father’s talent, I’m afraid to say…”  Then the thing that I dreaded happened.

“What?” said Ron, incredulous.  “Is that your dad down the end, Neville?”

“What’s this?” Gran said sharply.  “Haven’t you told your friends about your parents, Neville?”

I wish I could tell her how I feel about telling people about Mum and Dad.  It’s not as easy for me as it is for her.  I took a deep breath, looked up at the ceiling and shook my head while praying silently that maybe the ceiling would suddenly fall down and crush me.

“Well, it’s nothing to be ashamed of!” Gran said angrily, as if I’ve wronged my parents instead of protecting them.  “You should be proud, Neville, proud!  They didn’t give their health and their sanity so their only son would be ashamed of them you know!”

“I’m not ashamed,” I replied quietly.  {I’m trying to protect them.  Don’t you understand Gran?} I thought to myself.

“Well, you’ve got a funny way of showing it!” Gran scolded me before her voice turned haughty.  “My son and his wife were tortured into insanity by You-Know-Who’s followers.  They were Aurors, you know, and very well respected within the Wizarding community.  Highly gifted the pair of them.  I — yes, Alice dear, what is it?”

I looked away from the potted plant next to another patient’s bed to see Mum making timid motions toward me, wanting me to take something she had in her outstretched hand.

“Again?” Gran asked, sounding like she was losing her patience, as I reached out to take it and Mum dropped another Droobles Blowing Gum wrapper into my hand.

“Very nice, dear,” Gran said in a falsely tolerant tone.  I really wished that she didn’t treat my parents as if they were inferior, but Gran’s that way and I love her just the same; just as much as I love my parents.

“Thanks Mum,” I said quietly to her.  She walked back to where Dad was waiting for her, humming to herself.  I finally gathered the courage to look my classmates in the eye, daring them to laugh at my mum.  I’ve taken them on before — never mind that Hermione put a Full-Body Bind on me before I could do anything.  But they didn’t laugh, in fact, they looked horrified and I think that’s the first time I realized that they are my truest friends.

“Well, we’d better get back,” Gran sighed as she pulled on her long green gloves.  “Very nice to have met you all.  Neville, put that wrapper in the bin, she must have given you enough of them to paper your bedroom by now…”

She has always said that, and I know she doesn’t understand what those wrappers mean to me.  So I did what I’ve always done as we left the ward and my shocked classmates — I slipped the wrapper into my pocket and promised to myself to keep it safe.

//
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