A/N: This was written for Jae Gecko’s
500 Word Defining Moment Challenge. The other entries, including one by the
Quill’s very own Maidenjedi, may be found here.
This story is dedicated to Jae, for her eyelash-batting skills.
By the time the Aurors came, it was all over. The special squad, sent because
Frank Longbottom was a well-known and liked member of the Order of the Phoenix,
heard the screams as they approached and went in running. The Death Eaters were
discovered just as they were about to leave, since Frank and his wife hadn’t
given any relevant information. Once they no longer had their minds they had
nothing else to offer Voldemort anyway.
The first two Aurors on the scene, experienced though they were, stopped dead
in their tracks. The screams were always worse close up, and Alice Longbottom
had torn much of her hair out. There were vivid red fingermarks on her pale
skin; the more experienced Aurors recognised the signs of prolonged exposure
to the Cruciatus Curse. A few weeks later one of the Aurors, an old friend of
the Longbottoms’, would kill himself. No-one would ever be certain whether it
was because he’d arrived too late or too early, after his friends had lost their
minds but before they were granted the release of death.
The culprits were brought down, quickly and efficiently. If anyone at the time
noticed that the force used was perhaps a little more than was strictly necessary,
nobody complained. Nor would they complain later at the trial, when all three
Death Eaters were given life sentences in Azkaban.
Ten minutes later Medi-wizards arrived on the scene, in the hopes that perhaps
there was something left in the Longbottoms’ minds to salvage. They managed
to quieten the screams that would haunt those on the scene for many years to
come, but no hint of rationality was forthcoming. The Medi-wizards sighed and
Apparated the Longbottoms off to Saint Mungo’s. One of them went into the garden,
the grass now trampled flat by many footsteps, to be sick.
It was a full two hours before anyone remembered that the Longbottoms had a
Nobody ever remembered who exactly said “Didn’t they have a toddler?” Nor would
anyone remember who replied that the child’s name was Neville. They did, however,
all remember exactly what Neville’s face looked like when they found him hiding
in the dining room, under a table still laden with a half-eaten supper.
Everyone agreed that they needed to wipe Nevile’s memory of the night’s events.
The three members of the group who were parents thought of their own children’s
eyes filled with that kind of sheer terror, and suppressed shudders. It was
decided that a specialist should be brought in, as none of the group considered
themselves sufficiently expert to risk performing the spells themselves.
“Are you sure you want to do this?” the expert asked once he’d arrived. “In
a situation like this, it might be better to let nature run its course. The
sheer strength of the necessary magic involved can have some unfortunate side
effects… loss of co-ordination, forgetfulness…”
The yes was unanimous.
“All right then,” sighed the expert, and pointed his wand at Neville. “Obliviate.”