Author’s Note: Felina Black is love.
Transfiguration was hard. It was really, really hard, and
instead of helping, the two hours Neville had spent studying in the library
only served to leave him frustrated and angry.
Giving up for the night, Neville closed his copy of A
Beginner’s Guide to Transfiguration and slipped it into his bag, along with
his quill and the parchment he had been scribbling notes on. He fumbled a bit
with the latch before finally closing the bag. Madame Pince was watching him;
she’d been doing it all night. Without meeting her gaze, Neville swung his bag
over his shoulder and walked from the library. He had barely taken half a dozen
steps when he heard behind him the slow drawl of Draco Malfoy.
“What are you doing in the library, Longbottom?”
Neville gripped his bag tighter and kept walking.
“You couldn’t have been studying. It wouldn’t do you any
Determined to ignore him, Neville quickened his pace. All he
wanted was to get back to Gryffindor Tower, and perhaps he would have done had
he not been struck forcefully in the back by a curse. Neville’s legs simply
stopped working. His bag slipped from his grasp and he pitched forward onto his
hands, which he flung up to cushion his fall. His arms caught his weight and
the wrist he’d broken during their first flying lesion buckled. Neville crashed
hard into the stone floor.
“I’ve been looking for someone to try that on,” Malfoy
Neville pushed himself up and, with some difficulty, flipped
over. His legs were immobile and sticking straight out from his body. “Let me
“And why would I do that?”
“Come on, Malfoy,” Neville said, hating the shaky tone of
his voice. “You’ve had your fun, now let me go.”
“It’s a standard Leg Locker curse, Longbottom. Surely you
know the counter curse?”
Gritting his teeth, Neville stared down at his legs and
shook his head. Malfoy laughed again. “You should have been in Hufflepuff with
all the other losers, Longbottom. You haven’t got a knuts worth of brains or
courage. You’re pathetic.”
Without another word, Malfoy turned and strode down the
hallway. Neville watched him go. For a moment, he considered shouting for help,
or dragging himself back into the library. But no, this was bad enough without
crawling half-paralyzed into the library and begging Madame Pince for help.
He’d simply have to get back to Gryffindor Tower. Somehow. He’d get back to Gryffindor Tower and find Hermione. Hermione would fix this.
Swallowing down the sob that was struggling in his throat,
Neville placed one hand on either side of his legs and pushed. No, that wasn’t
going to work. He slid his palms back about a foot and tried again. No.
Exhaling through his nose, Neville laid back and rolled over so that he was
flat on his stomach. The stone floor was cool against his face. With a grunt,
Neville pushed himself up on his hands. Sweating with the effort, Neville
walked his hands backwards until he was bent almost in half. With an enormous
amount of effort, he stood up.
His arms were trembling and Neville felt fairly certain that
had his legs not been locked together, they would have been trembling as well.
His chest was heaving with deep unsteady breaths and he could taste the salt of
the sweat beading on his lip. And then he saw his bag, lying on the floor
several feet from him.
Tears of frustration filled Neville’s eyes. He blinked
rapidly and then, knees locked together, hopped over to his bag. He braced one
hand against the wall and bent over, but the hand was slippery with sweat and
it slid along the wall. Neville found himself once more on the floor. With his
forehead against the stone, Neville whispered a word he had only ever heard the
Weasley twins use. It felt good. He said it again.
But swearing wasn’t going to get him back to the common
room. Shoving aside his frustration, Neville reached out and grabbed his bag.
He struggled with the straps for a few moments before getting them looped over
his arms and, having successfully done so once, managed to get to his feet with
slightly more ease this time.
Down a hallway, up a staircase. Neville was profoundly glad
it was so late and the corridors were deserted. He wasn’t sure he could bear
the further humiliation of having a crowd watching as he bunny hopped back to
the Gryffindor common room. It was bad enough that he could hear the mutterings
of the portraits as he passed by.
Since he had no one to talk to, and plenty of time to pass,
Neville was able to search his brain and remember the password and give it to
the Fat Lady once he reached the portrait hole. She raised her eyebrows.
“Oh, dear. What happened?”
“Stupid Slytherin,” he muttered, looking down at his feet.
“I see,” she replied. “Yes, well, they are a rather
Neville nodded. “I know.”
“So, how are you going to get into the common room, dear?”
“What?” Neville cried, feeling near tears. “But I gave you
“Well, yes, but you can hardly get through the door when
you’ve got two good legs; and in this state…”
“What am I going to do? I can’t just sit here in the hallway
and wait for someone to come by! It’s almost curfew!”
“Yes, yes, you certainly don’t want to lose any points for
“I know!” Neville shouted in anguish.
“All right, dear, calm down. Working yourself up won’t do anyone
“So what am I going to do?”
“Well,” she said thoughtfully, “how high can you jump?”
“Like this?” he said incredulously, motioning to his legs.
“Yes, like that, unless you know the counter curse, in which
case I can’t imagine why you hopped all the way down the hallway, making so
much noise and waking every portrait along the way!”
Taken aback, Neville stared at her for a long moment. Then
he bent his knees and gave a feeble hop.
“Oh, go on,” she said, rolling her eyes. “You can do better
Neville squatted as low to the floor as he could without
toppling over –he didn’t much fancy the Fat Lady bearing witness to a fumbling
attempt to regain his footing – and jumped as high as he could.
“Excellent!” she exclaimed, clapping her hands together.
“Well done. Now, here’s what we’re going to do. Come a bit closer…no just a
bit…yes that’s it, just there. Now, I’m going to count, and when I get to
three, I’ll swing open and you leap as hard as you can into the common room.
Can you do that?”
“Yeah,” he replied, bending his knees again.
“Very good. Ready? All right, one…two…three!”
She swung open and Neville jumped with all his might. When
he felt the carpet beneath his cheek and heard the laughter of his classmates, Neville
knew he had gotten through. He was terribly embarrassed, but at least he was
safe. Now he just needed to find Hermione. And there she was, hurrying towards
him with her wand drawn. She quickly cast the counter curse and helped Neville
to his feet. He smiled at her gratefully as she led him over to the couch.
“What happened?” she asked, gesturing towards the seat
beside Ron. Trembling, he took it.
“Malfoy,” he answered. “I met him outside the library. He
said he’d been looking for someone to practice that on.”
“Go to Professor McGonagall! Report him!” Hermione
Neville shook his head. “I don’t want any more trouble.”
“You’ve got to stand up to him, Neville,” urged Ron. “He’s
used to walking all over people, but that’s no reason to lie down in front of
him and make it easier.”
The tears were back, just behind Neville’s eyes. “There’s no
need to tell me I’m not brave enough to be in Gryffindor, Malfoy’s already done
There was a sudden rustling, and Neville looked over to see
Harry digging around in the pocket of his robe. He pulled out a Chocolate Frog
and held it out. Neville took it with shaking fingers.
“You’re worth twelve of Malfoy,” Harry said fervently. “The
Sorting Hat chose you for Gryffindor, didn’t it? And where’s Malfoy? In
He looked so earnest that Neville felt himself giving a weak
smile. He unwrapped the Frog and slipped the card from the paper.
“Thanks, Harry,” he said, holding the Famous Wizard card out
to him. “I think I’ll go to bed. D’you want the card, you collect them, don’t
Harry took the card and gave Neville another reassuring
smile. Clutching the Frog in one hand and the wrapper in the other, Neville
climbed the stairs and made his way to the first-year dormitory. Once he was
there, he sat down on his bed and ate every bite of chocolate. The he rolled
over onto his stomach, buried his head in his arms and cried straight into
Sometime later, Neville awoke with a pounding head and
aching eyes. He didn’t know how long he’d been asleepi indeed he didn’t
remember falling asleep, but judging by the darkness in the room and the snores
coming from behind Ron’s curtains, it was late.
Neville sat up in the bed. He was still clutching the
crumpled wrapper of the Chocolate Frog Harry had given him. Quietly, Neville
swung his legs off the bed and stood up. He crept to the foot of his bed and
opened his trunk. There, beneath sweaters, trousers and an extra set of robes
was a small plain wooden box. Neville lifted it gently and closed the trunk. He
picked his bag up from where it lay on the floor and climbed back onto his bed,
drawing the curtains around him.
The tip of Neville’s wand erupted in light. He paused and
listened for stirrings from the other beds, but there was none. The hangings on
the bed were thick and heavy.
With one hand on his wand, Neville lifted to top off the box
he’d taken from his trunk. Inside lay dozens and dozens of Drooble's Best
Blowing Gum wrappers. Neville ran his fingers over them tenderly. Then he
smoothed out the Chocolate Frog wrapper and, after a moment’s hesitation,
placed it carefully inside the box. Blinking rapidly against the gritty tears
in his eyes, Neville placed the lid back on the box.
He set it aside and reached into his bag. His hand closed
over a quill, then a bit of parchment. Neville brought them out and laid the
parchment atop the smooth lid of the wooden box. He lowered his quill.
Dear Mum and
I’ve made a