The Sugar Quill
Author: TyCelchu  Story: Neville Longbottom and the Boy Who Lived  Chapter: Chap 1 The Boy Who Lived
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Halloween

Chapter 1 – The Boy Who Lived

 

Halloween.  All Hallows Eve.  Funny how the Muggles should take this wizard’s holiday and make it their own, thought Frank Longbottom.  Frank glanced over at his wife and fifteen-month-old son as yet another knock on the door occurred.  “More trick-or-treaters,” he said.  “The price we pay for hiding out in a Muggle community, I guess.”

 

Frank got up to answer the door, and looked out the tiny view port that showed him the front porch.  Sure enough, three children were waiting expectantly for the resident to open the door, and an amused gentleman could be seen at the walk up to the house.  Frank shrugged, reached for the bowl of Muggle sweets, and opened the door.

 

“Trick or treat!” the kids chimed in unison.

 

“Well don’t you all look scary,” said Frank.  “What have we here?  A vampire, a wolfman, and a witch.  Oooh.  I’m going to have nightmares tonight.”  The children beamed at Frank as they each took a treat from the bowl.

 

The trio’s voices rang out “Thank you!” and they ran back to the man.  Frank followed for a couple of steps and flagged the attention of the adult.

 

“Evening, Frank,” the man said.  “Is something wrong?”

 

“You never can tell these days, Paul.”  Frank spoke in a voice just low enough not to be heard by the children.  “Just make sure you keep a sharp eye on your brood.  There’s evil afoot tonight.”

 

“Of course there is.  It’s Halloween!  It’s the time for spooks and goblins.”

 

“I’m serious.”  Frank put on his most stern face.  “Look, I’m… in a manner of law enforcement, and the rumors I’m hearing is that someone with a bad reputation has been making threats, and that no one, not even Mug-, er, normal people could be safe.”

 

Paul looked at Frank as if he had said the moon was made of cheese.  “Don’t worry, Frank.  We’re just finishing up this street, and heading home.  Uh, thanks for your warning, but we’ll be all right.”

 

“Good,” Frank said.  “Then, I won’t keep you.  Take care and lock your doors.”

 

Paul shook his head as he turned away.  Frank watched Paul and his kids move down the street, before he turned himself and reentered the house.  “That’s all for tonight,” he laughed.  “We’re closed for this year.”  He set the bowl of sweets down, locked the door, and turned out the porch light.  He pulled out his wand pointed it at the front door and incanted “Defigo.”

 

“We’re safe, luv,” cooed his wife, Alice.  She reached up to touch his cheek.  “We’ve taken precautions.  Dumbledore has cast his Fidelius Charm on us, and I really don’t think your mum will betray our secret to You-know-who.  We’ll be fine.”

 

Frank enveloped his wife in a hug.  “I guess you’re right.  I just have this sense of foreboding tonight.  Voldemort is active, his Death Eaters are on the prowl, and the air doesn’t feel right.”  He glanced over at his son, Neville who was trying to put a wooden block in his mouth.  “And I worry more than I ever thought possible, now that we have…”  Frank choked up.  “I…I can’t help it.  I love you both so much.  I’d lose my mind if something were to happen to either of you.”

 

Alice gave him a soft kiss.  “We’re going to be fine.  Between you and me, your mum, and Algie and Enid, and now little Neville, our family will always be here for each other.  Don’t forget that you have become a powerful Auror in your own right, and I’m not exactly helpless myself.  I’m so proud of you, luv.  I’m so proud of us.  We fight for what is good and right.  Yes, maybe we have got the attention of You-know-who, but don’t forget that we also have powerful wizards like Albus on our side, watching over us.”  She held Frank tightly.  “We’re healthy and happy, and we’re going to stay that way.  Now let’s put Neville to bed.”

 

Frank sighed.  “You’re right.  Maybe I’m tired.  Maybe I’m just being morbid.”  He took a moment to run his hand through her hair, and look deep into her eyes.  “Tell you what.  Once Nev settles down you can cheer me up in front of the fire, and tell me what you have planned for tomorrow.”

 

“You’ve got yourself a deal, Mister Longbottom.  I’ll take Neville up and get him ready for the night.  You tidy up down here and then join us upstairs until he’s asleep.”

 

Frank nodded and released his wife from their clinch.  He looked around the living room as Alice took the boy upstairs.  Only fifteen months, but the boy can spread toys everywhere, he thought.  He took out his wand, and with several quick flicks the toys were tucked away in a wooden chest in the corner.  He let out a sigh, and headed for the stairs.

 

Out of nowhere there was a pounding on the door.  Frank quickly drew his wand and started cautiously toward the door.  “Alice, stay upstairs,” Frank called.  He turned on the porch light, and looked through the view port.

 

“Come on Longbottom, let me in,” said Alastor Moody.  “I wouldn’t be here if I didn’t know you were home, and I know you see me.  I’ve got news that can’t wait.”

 

Effringo, took care of the magical lock, and Frank released the physical locking mechanism as he opened the door.  “Moody.  What brings you here tonight?”  Frank held the door open as the visitor walked in. 

 

Moody looked Frank over.  “You know, that’s why you are the best in the Department, Frank.  Only you seem to take me seriously.  I like that you used a combination of magical and non-magical means to protect yourself.  That’s my boy!  Constant vigilance!  Alice!  Get down here you need to hear this too.”

 

Alice descended the stairs with a whimpering Neville.  “Hello, Alastor.  Would you like some tea?”

 

“Nah.  Don’t got time.  But sitting might make this easier.”  Moody took the comfortable chintz armchair that Frank’s mum normally sat in, and the Longbottoms retreated to the sofa.  Moody paused a moment collecting his thoughts.

 

“Voldemort is on the move, and this time it appears to be with a purpose.  Rumor has it he knows where the Potters are.”

 

The idea the Fidelius Charm might have failed sent shivers down Frank’s spine.  It hadn’t even been two months since they were summoned to Hogwarts by a very anxious Albus Dumbledore.  The headmaster had been present during a prophecy that would concern either Neville Longbottom or Harry Potter.  He wouldn’t elaborate except to say that it was important that both families go into hiding.  As the group worked out the particulars of charm, both he and James had let slip the name of their probable Secret Keepers.  Neither seemed particularly concerned with the lack of secrecy in the room.  Both Frank and James had proven themselves loyal to the side of good several times over the past few years.

 

“It’s Sirius Black,” said Frank.  “When Dumbledore told James about the Fidelius Charm, he said they would probably use Sirius.  But I can’t imagine that Black would betray him.  They’ve been closer then brothers for over ten years.”

 

“Well that explains why my dark detectors are going nuts.  How anyone could trust a Black after what that family has done is beyond me.”  Moody stood up and started to pace.  “Since you already know the particulars here, I’m going to use you on this.  The fewer people involved the better.  What I need from you, Frank, is to stay alert and prepared.  Chances are good you will be called upon to follow up before the night is over.  Hopefully this will turn out to be a false alarm, but my gut tells me otherwise.  I’ll be preparing your backup at the Ministry, just in case.” 

 

With that Moody headed for the door.  “Stay by the fire and prepare to Floo to a point of my choosing.  I’m sorry to take him away on a night like this Alice.  If you weren’t still responsible for that tyke, I’d likely call you back into service as well.  This could very well be the night that, for good or ill, will determine the fate of our world.”  And with a nod, Moody was out the door and gone.

 

The Longbottoms sat quietly for some time after that.  Frank put his arm around Alice messaging her neck and shoulders gently.  In turn she laid her head on his chest.  Even young Neville, resting in the cradle of Alice’s arm didn’t make a noise, and the child eventually fell into a peaceful sleep.

 

“Merlin, I envy him,” Frank said, looking at his son.  He took hold of his wife’s hand.  “Maybe after tonight, we’ll be able to sleep like that.  Go on upstairs, sweets.  Keep him with you tonight, in our room.  I’m going to get ready, and hope that Moody is over-reacting.”

 

*****

 

He was going over his equipment for the third time when Moody’s head popped into the Longbottom fireplace.

 

“Longbottom, we’ve set up a Floo connection between your house and a pub in Godric’s Hollow.  I want you to proceed directly there, and survey the situation.  I will join you there as soon as possible.”  And with a pop, Moody’s head disappeared.

 

Frank blinked and gathered up the equipment he felt he needed most.  He took an envelope out of his pocket and set it on the mantle.  He pointed his wand at the envelope and incanted “Evanesco pension existo.  The envelope disappeared and it wouldn’t reappear for twenty-four hours.  He should be home by the time when it re-materialized and no one would need to know what the letter contained.  He hated writing these letters.  But every time there was a legitimate chance he wouldn’t return, he felt he had to.  It would be important for both Alice, and later Neville to understand what he was thinking, and how proud he was of his family.  He also knew he wasn’t the only Auror to write these letters.

 

He reached into a small flower pot sitting by the fire, and withdrew a handful of the magic powder that enabled him to travel through flame.  He stepped into the fire and clearly spoke, “Godric’s Hollow.”  He zipped along the Floo network and emerged in an empty pub.  An incredible racket was going on outside, and he stepped from the pub into the street.  A fire engine sounded its siren and Frank followed it with his eyes.  Three houses down, an apparent bomb had gone off.  A two-story house had been leveled, and the remains were on fire.

 

Frank broke into a run.  When he reached the scene of destruction, he was accosted by a

Muggle official.  He waved some fake Muggle identification the Ministry had provided for him, and was granted access to the remains of the house.  “Any casualties?” he asked the officer on the scene.

 

“Two dead,” the officer replied.  “We have the bodies behind the engine.”

 

“I need to see them.”

 

“Of course, but we have a problem.  You see we pulled the bodies from the wreckage, and now this big, black dog is watching over him.  Must belong to the victims, but I’ve never seen a dog so loyal after death.  If you can get by him, can you put the victims in body bags?”

 

Frank nodded, took two bags and walked around the fire engine.  Sure enough, there was a large black dog, and the bodies of James and Lily Potter.  He fought back the lump that formed in his throat, and focused on the task at hand.  He studied the dog for a moment. 

 

Damn, that almost looks like a Grim, he thought.  And, Frank realized, the dog was studying him.  He approached carefully waiting for the dog’s reaction, and finally came to a stop about ten feet from James’ body.

 

The dog carefully walked up to Frank and licked his hand.  Then, without warning, the dog bolted off into the brush on the side of the house.  Frank shook his head at the animal’s strange behavior and began his examination of the bodies.  Sure enough, both bodies were clearly victim to one of the Unforgivable Curses.

 

“I wasn’t fast enough,” said a voice.  Frank wheeled around, wand drawn and came face to face with a grief-stricken Sirius Black.  “I tried…tried…but couldn’t…”

 

“Sirius, where is little Harry?” Frank asked warily.  “I need to know”

 

“Ha…Hagrid took him.  Said Dumbledore sent him.”  Sirius appeared on the verge of a complete breakdown.  “I let him have my motorbike, to get him there quick and safe.  Oh…Peter…How…Why…?”

 

“Sirius, what happened here?”

 

“Voldemort…couldn’t resist...oh Peter…Peter.”  Sirius had a wild-eyed look about him.  He was clearly struggling trying to get his thoughts in order.  “Frank, I have to find Peter.  I have to find him.  Send an owl to Remus Lupin and Professor Dumbledore.  They’ll be able to work out where he is.  Tell them to meet me at…”

 

“I can’t let you go.  Not until I know exactly what happened.”

 

“It was Voldemort.  He killed James and Lily.  He tried to kill Harry, but something went wrong.  Somehow the spell rebounded and Voldemort was hit.”

 

Frank tried to piece the information together.  “If Voldemort was hit, then where is his body?  There are only two here, James and Lily.  None of this makes any sense.  You were the Potters’ Secret Keeper.  You were the only way to find them.  Sirius, I’m going to have to take you into custody until we can sort this out.”

 

“NOOOOOO!” screamed Black.  “I have to get to Peter.  It’s the only way to make sense of all this.”

 

“I’m sorry,” said Frank.  “You’ll have to wait for Moody and the others.”

 

“I’m sorry, too,” said Sirius.  “I always did like you.  Please don’t take this the wrong way.  Infusco!  Suddenly everything went pitch black.  Frank couldn’t see his own hand in front of his face it was so dark. 

 

Finite Incantatem,” Frank cried, ending the darkness spell.  But in that moment, he knew he had failed.  Sirius was gone.  All he could see was the black dog running down the street.

 

*****

 

By the time Moody arrived, Frank was in a sour mood.  Moody set the Magical Catastrophes Squad to deal with the problem of erasing any signs of the wizarding world.  By morning, the newspaper would report a fire had accidentally been set by a couple of squatters as the house awaited its new occupants, and the firemen would be lauded for their bravery.

 

But for now, Frank was unwilling to quit. 

 

“Let him go,” said Moody.  “I know Sirius.  He’ll make a mistake, and then we’ll have him.  Black won’t be able to hide for long.”

 

“But I had him.  I had him, and I felt pity.  I’m not totally convinced he did this.  It just doesn’t smell right.  I’ve known Sirius Black for the better part of eight years.  Spent three years at Hogwarts with him.  He is not the type to turn on his friend.”

 

“Now is not the time for recrimination or regret, my young friend.  I wouldn’t be surprised if he fooled everyone during his school years.  His family is littered with Dark Wizards, many of whom were followers of Voldemort.  My guess is he’s finally showing his true colors.  That makes it even more imperative that we track down the traitor Black.”

 

*****

 

Twelve hours passed, and Frank neither slept nor ate.  He was too busy.  Reports had come in from all over England about the possible whereabouts of Sirius Black, Rubeus Hagrid, and Harry Potter, but so far none of them had come to fruition.

 

The Ministry of Magic was coordinating the search for the fugitives using the combined resources of both the Department of Magical Law Enforcement and the Department of Magical Catastrophes.  He knew he needed a break, but refused to let anyone else man his post.  It’s my fault.  I let Black go.  And who knows if we will ever find out the truth about…

 

“CONSTANT VIGILANCE!” he heard Moody cry from his office.  Moody rushed into the main war room.  “We found him.  Your instincts were right, Frank.  He’s going after Peter Pettigrew next.  Remus Lupin has been warned and we have dispatched guards for him.  Frank, your mission is to capture Black.  Take a squad of two dozen men.  Fill out your ranks with those from DMC if you have to.  You will leave from this room by Portkey in five minutes.  Go.  Now.”

 

Frank jumped to his feet and pushed the alarm.  In four minutes and fifteen seconds, twenty-four members of the Ministry of Magic were ready to go.  “This rope has been transfigured into your Portkey, so everyone grab hold” instructed Moody.  “You are to capture Sirius Black alive, and prevent the further loss of life.  The area you are going into is crowded with Muggles, so remember, CONSTANT VIGILANCE!

 

The portkey flared to life and the small army was transported, unnoticed into a grove of trees.  It was a small town, but it was bustling with activity.  Frank signaled for the Ministry members to spread out, and begin their search.  They had segmented this town into six sections, each to be searched by a four-man team.

 

“Remember, this is a Muggle community, so keep your wands down, and act like police officers,” reminded Frank as soon as they arrived.  “Be aware of Muggle customs and try to blend in.  We don’t want to create a panic, or lead Muggles into potential danger.  My group is on section one, the rest of you know your assigned areas.  Move out.” 

 

Frank set out on point, praying he would be the one to find Black.  Every time he thought of little Harry Potter, all he could see was his own son’s face.  Two boys, born less than a day apart.  He could remember seeing both of them in the nursery at St. Mungo’s, remembered the rounds of congratulations between James and himself.  The Potters represented all that was good in the wizarding world.  Frank was going to make Black pay for his betrayal.

 

Frank’s group had just finished searching their second street and was beginning their third when the red sparks shot up.  The location was two streets away, and Frank broke into a sprint.  “This way,” he hissed, and his team moved quickly and quietly towards the signal.  As they rounded the corner leading onto the street the signal came from, he brought his group to a halt.

 

Sirius Black and Peter Pettigrew were arguing loudly at the end of a dead-end street.  Close to thirty Muggles had come out of their homes to see what the ruckus was.  Frank led the group of Ministry officials down towards the pair, trying to keep the spectators at bay.  Nobody was going to escape now.  He tried to signal Peter to keep Sirius occupied. 

 

With over sixty people crowding the street, Peter suddenly looked as if he was beginning to panic.  He said a few more things quietly to the enraged Sirius Black, but then he lost it.  Frank sped up, but the Muggles were all around him now, Pettigrew shouted, “Lily and James, Sirius.  How could you?”  Black took half a step back, and chaos ensued.  A deafening explosion sent Muggles and wizards alike into the air.  Frank only caught a glimpse of the devastation before he crashed into a fence and the world went dark.

 

*****

 

He regained consciousness a few moments later, looking into the face of a junior official of the Ministry of Magic.  “Ah.  Mr. Longbottom.  Glad to see you’re alright.  You remember me?  Cornelius Fudge of the Department of Magical Catastrophes?  Of course not everyone came through this ordeal in pristine physical condition.  We did manage to successfully detain Mr. Black.  Pity about those Muggles, though.  Eight dead, fourteen injured.  No wizard fatalities unless, of course, you count Mr Pettigrew.”

 

“Let me see him,” Frank rasped.  “I need to see him with my own eyes.”

 

Fudge led Frank to where Black was being kept.  The light had gone out of Black’s eyes, and he wasn’t struggling against the Full-Body Bind he was being kept in. 

 

“There he is,” Fudge whispered.  He seems quite subdued now.  Shouldn’t pose much of a threat at this point, and of course, once he’s sent to Azkaban we won’t have to worry about him again.”

 

“I wouldn’t be so sure about that,” said Frank.  “I have a feeling that there is much more to Sirius Black then meets the eye.  We must remember what Alastor Moody always says, constant vigilance.”

 

“Yes, yes,” said Fudge.  “I must remember that.  We must always be looking for evil plots to come at us at any and all times.”

 

“Now, if you’ll excuse me, Fudge, I’d like to go home.  It’s been a very long day, and I am anxious to get back to my family.  After all, even with these tragedies, it is still a day of celebration.  Voldemort is dead, and a traitor is captured.  The cost was high, but you have to say it was worth it to rid the world of such evil.”  Fudge nodded, and Frank walked to a point the DMC had cleared for Apparition.  He left the town with a “pop” and appeared in the garden in his own back yard.  He entered the house, and found he was all alone.  Before panic set in he found a note that read,  

 

            Neville and I are at your mum’s.  Clean up, change clothes and come over when you are ready.  Never forget that I love you.  Alice.

 

The weight of the day’s events began to catch up to him as the adrenaline ebbed from his system.   Tears started to form in his eyes.  Finite Incantatem,” he said, and his letter to Alice reappeared on the mantle.  “One more letter I get to destroy before you have to read it.  I pray you and Neville never read one.”

 

After Frank was presentable, he used the Floo Powder to travel to his mum’s.  There was a party going on, and everyone greeted him cheerfully.  When he was given a Butterbeer he lifted it in one arm, and his son in the other.  “Everyone, I have to give a toast.  To the Potters.  Good people and a noble line, who died like heroes of the first degree.  May we never forget what happened to them yesterday.  And to their son, who through a power unknown even to him, has given us a future we dared not dream possible.  A future without Voldemort.  Everyone, raise your glass to Harry Potter – the Boy Who Lived.”

//
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