Chapter 23 : Chapter 22-Fixin' A Hole
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Chapter 22-Fixin’ A Hole
Neville held his breath. His heart was pounding, emotions were raging. This wasn’t fair. Had he just regained his mother to lose his father? No, he couldn’t be dead, he couldn’t.
His father made a large gasping sound as he took a deep breath in. The man then picked up his hands and rubbed his eyes. Neville couldn’t help but give a shaky sigh in relief. He was alive.
“What happened?” he asked Hermione anxiously.
“It appears that he had a bad reaction to the treatment.” She responded, not taking her eyes off of Frank Longbottom. “It seemed to affect him more than it did your mother,” she added softly.
“Do you think he’ll be alright?” Neville asked worriedly.
Hermione shrugged. “This is all trial and error, Neville, we have no idea what is going to happen. To either of them.”
Neville nodded. “Right,” He walked over to his father, who looked at him with tears in his eyes, the same recognition in his face as his mother had possessed. The interaction had much in common with his reunion with his mother, though his father had even more difficulty speaking. More time had elapsed between Alice being administered the potion and Neville’s arrival at the hospital.
After a short while, a Healer came over and tapped him on his shoulder. “Mr. Longbottom?” he asked. Neville’s heart leapt when his father responded to the title too. “We want to run a few tests on your father. If you would kindly wait outside…?”
Neville stood, grasping his father’s hand in his own. “I’ll be back soon,” he told the older man.
“Al,” his father managed to whisper. “Al,”
“Alice?” Neville asked, “You mean Mum?” Frank nodded. “She’s doing wonderfully, I just saw her a few minutes ago.” A content smile spread onto the older man’s features.
After a few more brief words, Neville left the room elated. As he walked out of the small space, he nearly knocked over his grandmother. “What’s going on?” she asked frantically. “I had to go to the loo all of a sudden when they started, I think my nerves got the best of me. How are they?”
Neville filled Gran in on the details of what had perspired in her absence. She started to cry uncontrollably, the opposite of the composed woman who had raised him. “I need to see them,” she whispered through the tears. “I need to see my son,”
Just then, Hermione walked through one of the doors smiling. “Everything looks good so far,” she reported to them, beaming. Neville could help but grin as Gran rushed over to Hermione, thanking her, though he could tell that she was trying to get a grip on her raging emotions.
Hermione responded graciously and then informed the older woman, “You can go in now if you’d like, Mrs. Longbottom,”
Augusta held her breath as she entered the small room. Her son was sitting in an oversized chair, but he didn’t look much different from any of the other times she had visited him over the past two decades. But then it happened. He turned his head towards her. And he smiled.
This is not to say that he had never smiled at her since the attack. He often smiled when she visited, but it was the dazed and confused smile of one who has no longer has control over their mind. But this time was different. The smile reached Frank’s eyes, he saw her. He knew who she was. The tears began afresh. Augusta shoved them aside roughly. She didn’t need to deal with them now; the time for crying was over.
“Frank,” she whispered, approaching her son. They had told her that he was going to have to relearn how to talk, so she was not expecting a reply.
“Um,” he forced out, much to Augusta’s surprise and delight. He was trying to say Mum. Her heart swelled.
“It’s okay, dear, don’t tire yourself out.”
Frank stretched out his arms. Augusta leaned into her son’s arms, which gripped her tightly for the first time in years.
She sighed contentedly as she held her son. This was proof of what she hadn’t dared to believe; dreams really can come true.
Luna hurried up to Minerva’s office as soon as the class period had ended. She wanted to tell the Headmistress about Neville’s unexpected departure before she heard about it from another source. There was no way she was going to let her husband lose his job over something so wonderful.
Her hand traced her slightly protruding belly. There was more than just principle on the line here. They needed all the money they could get with the baby on the way, and the last thing they needed was unemployment. She knew that no matter how much they needed the money, Neville was too proud to ask for help, and there was no way she was going to be working while she was pregnant, he wouldn’t let her. If nothing else, her husband was overprotective. She smiled. After the baby was born, well, that was another story.
Just as she reached the gargoyle sentries, Severus Snape approached from the opposite direction. He nodded at her abruptly. “Good evening, Miss Lovegood,”
Luna stood up a little straighter. “It’s Mrs. Longbottom,” she short back rather uncharacteristically harsh.
Snape seemed taken aback at her tone. He put back his shoulders, an air of haughtiness appearing out of nowhere. “My apologies. Now, Mrs. Longbottom, if you are looking for your husband, I presume that he is heading down to the Great Hall for dinner. So if you’ll excuse me, I have some business to take care of.” He started towards Minerva’s door. Luna cut him off.
“I’m sorry, I have to see the Headmistress,” she began, softening her voice slightly. “It will only take a minute…”
Snape looked irritated. “Has it occurred to you that perhaps I have urgent information the Headmistress needs to hear?”
Luna pointed her chin a little higher, crossing your arms. “If that was the case, you wouldn’t be wasting your time talking to me,” she retorted.
She could have laughed as Snape’s eyebrows almost disappeared under his hair. “Not the little mouse you were in school, now are you?” he quipped in returned. “Now, if you’ll excuse me,” he placed a hand on Luna’s shoulder and started to push her out of the way.
“What, Snape, you’ve been reduced to shoving pregnant women, eh?” Luna bantered back. Snape snapped around, his eyes flashing furiously. Luna was shocked; this was not the reaction she had been expecting. “I-I’m sorry, I didn’t mean,”
Snape swelled up. It looked like he was about to explode. Suddenly, Minerva appeared behind him. “What’s going on Severus?” she asked as she moved away from the stairs. She smiled. “Hello, Luna,”
“Minerva, can I speak to you for minute?” Luna looked at Snape. They had both spoken at the same time.
The older woman smiled. “I’m sorry, but I’m quite hungry. Can this wait until later?” she asked good naturedly.
Snape took a deep breath. “Fine,” He pursed his lips in an irritated manner. “I will need to see you directly after dinner, I have a student coming at eight o’clock and we have things to discuss before then.” The man stalked off, his black cloak billowing out behind him.
Minerva smiled at her kindly. “Don’t mind him,” she reassured her. “How’s the baby?”
“She’s doing quite well, thank you,”
Minerva raised her eyebrows. “You know already?”
Luna gave a shrug. “Not officially. I just hate calling my child and ‘it’. Whatever pronoun this baby uses, they will still be more than a think.
Chuckling for a moment, Minerva became a bit more businesslike. “Now, what did you need to talk to me about? Your husband, I presume?”
Luna nodded. “Yes, it’s about Neville,”
Minerva frowned. “Is something wrong?” Her eyes widened. “Did something happen with Alice and Frank?”
A smiled formed on Luna’s face. “Yes, actually. Well, at least with Alice. They called to tell us that she was responding well while he was doing a lesson. He left right away as soon as I told him, and I stayed with the students.”
Minerva frowned. “He should have come to me before leaving,” she told the younger woman sternly.
Luna sighed. “I know, but he needed to get there quickly. They don’t know if his mother’s response is going to be permanent or not…I think he was afraid that if he delayed he’d miss her.”
A look of comprehension came to Minerva’s features. “That is certainly understandable.” She raised her eyebrows. “Did you teach?” she asked skeptically.
Luna gritted her teeth. She hated being second guessed because of her beliefs. “No, I just made sure the children didn’t kill each other,” she replied as calmly as possible.
Minerva visibly relaxed. “Thank you very much,” she told Luna. “Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to be late for dinner.”
Severus finished his meal quickly. He wasn’t very hungry, but he knew that he needed to eat. He forced himself to swallow the food. He left the table as soon as he felt that he could without looking too suspicious.
He didn’t care if Minerva wasn’t finished yet. He had to make sure that he was the first person to get to her. He could wait. And if need be, Jacob Baxter could wait.
Severus made his way to the Head’s quarters. He fought the urge to pace before Minerva’s door, though he did allow himself to tap his fingers impatiently against his arm.
Finally, after several false alarms, Minerva finally walked towards him. “Ah, Severus, what did you have to see me about?”
He nodded towards her office. “Can we go somewhere private?” he asked.
“Of course,” Minerva gave the password to the gargoyles, which sprang aside to let them pass. They were silent on the assent of the stairs. The instant they reached the top, Minerva hurried into her office, leaving Severus to follow. The Headmistress situated herself at her desk. “Now Severus, what is going on?”
He began to tell her about Jacob Baxter. Not his involvement in the murder of the boy’s parents of course, he wasn’t foolish. But he told her what he had discovered about his lacking any memories of said parents, and upon further examination it appeared that his mind had been wiped clean.
“Severus, you entered a student’s mind? Really? You probably scared the poor boy half to death! Not to mention breaking several rules in the process.”
He pursed his lips. “I am not a student needing to be reprimanded. I needed to get to the bottom of the situation-”
Minerva looked at him sternly. “You should have come to me first.”
Severus rolled his eyes. “I’m not a puppy dog who will always come drooling back to you,”
“No,” Minerva reproached, “but you are a member of my staff. The safety of a student’s body or mind is my concern. You are to bring anything else like this to me before you take action. Do I make myself clear?”
“Fine,” he grumbled. “So, I’m telling you now. There was significant damage to his memory; it’s amazing that he’s able to function normally. Whoever wiped his memory knew what they were doing.”
Minerva nodded as he spoke, seeming to be over her previous annoyance at him. “Do you think it’s reparable?”
Severus hesitated. He wanted to say yes, he wanted the boy to at least have something of his parents. It was the least he could do for him… “No,” he replied solemnly. “Like I said, whoever did the wipe was good. They only targeted certain memories, but those they targeted are utterly obliterated. I am almost positive that any attempt to retrieve them would cause permanent damage to the boy.”
“That’s a shame,” Minerva muttered. “Would you like me to tell him?”
Severus shook his head, his hair falling into his face slightly. He pushed it aside. “No, I will. I see him tonight.”
“Ah, you have one of your lessons tonight?” He had informed Minerva of his plan to tutor Jacob after he had seen the boy’s skill. He didn’t want her to be suspicious of all the detentions Mr. Baxter was receiving.
“Yes,” he replied in the affirmative.
“How is the boy doing? Is he as impressive as you thought he would be?”
Severus thought for a moment before replying carefully. “He still has a long way to go, but I have never seen a beginner have as much success as he has.”
Minerva began shuffling though some papers strewn across her desk. “Very good,” she told him distractedly. Severus took it as a sign to take his leave. Just as he placed his hand on the door knob, she called out, “Oh, and Severus?”
He turned to face her. “Yes?”
She gave him a grim smile. “Good luck,”
Jake felt an inexplicable nervousness as he made his way down to the dungeons for his potion’s lesson. He couldn’t stop thinking about what Professor Snape had said earlier. His friends were still unaware about his memory troubles. That whole business was just too strange.
The dungeon doors seemed unusually daunting as he approached. Jake shook himself; he was being ridiculous. They weren’t any different than usual, he was just a bit off, that was all. He worried for a moment that perhaps everything would interfere with his potion making ability. Jake took a deep breath. He didn’t want to disappoint Professor Snape.
He raised his hand slowly and knocked, the sound reverberating in the still air around him.
“Come in,” Snape’s muffled voice called out. Jake pushed opened the door and looked around the room, frowning. He didn’t see any potions supplies on the tables, no caldron over a fire ready to begin brewing. Snape seemed utterly unprepared for the lesson. Something was wrong.
“Sir?” he questioned tentatively. “Where is everything?”
Snape ignored his question. “Sit,” he ordered, gesturing wearily to a seat that was placed in front of his desk. Jake looked at the professor. His face was eerily blank and aloof, as if he was trying to distance himself from the situation. His face was drawn and harsh, it sort of resembled how he appeared in class but off somehow. “We need to discuss what happened earlier.”
“About my memories?” Jake asked, his heart pounding. Snape nodded once.
“I have talked to the Headmistress and we have decided that it would be unwise to attempt to retrieve them.”
Jake felt his heart sink. He should have expected this. He should have known better than to get his hopes up that something to be done. “I thought you said you would have to do more tests.” Jake reminded the professor. Maybe he’s wrong, maybe he made a mistake. But Severus Snape didn’t seem to be one who would be apt to making mistakes.
“I know what I said,” Snape snapped tersely. Jake was slightly taken aback, Snape rarely spoke like that towards him, but he tried to remember that this was how the professor treated most of his students. He couldn’t take it personally. “But based on the damage I saw, any attempt at memory recovery would be futile.”
“So?” Jake asked. “Isn’t it at least worth a try?”
Snape’s voice became soft, and for some reason this shift frightened him more than his previous about face. “It would be futile because you would no longer have a mind to hold the memories. The scarring is so intense that the recovery process would render you insane.”
Taking a deep breath, Jake looked at the professor sadly. “So I’ll never get to know anything about my parents then?”
“I’m afraid not, at least from your own recollections.” There were a few moments of silence. “You asked before where everything is. I was not sure if you would want to continue with our lesson tonight in light of recent events.”
Confusion overwhelmed Jake. Why was Snape being so…nice to him all of a sudden? It made no sense. He appreciated it, of course, but it was more of the sort of thing he would have expected from Professor Longbottom.
Snape smirked at him, suddenly seeming much more like himself. “I’m not quite the vindictive bastard most make me out to be.”
“I-I wasn’t thinking anything like that, sir,” Jake stuttered, prompting Snape to raise his eyebrows skeptically. “I just….” He trailed off. “Sir?” he continued finally.
“Yes?” Snape replied, a bemused expression draped on his face.
“I would like to continue with the lesson.”
Snape looked slightly surprised, but nodded his head. “Very well,” With a flick of his wand, all of the supplies flew out of cabinets and set themselves up on the worktable. Snape opened a drawer and pulled out another piece of parchment, and handed it to Jake. “Here is a list of ingredients.” He seemed extraordinarily pleased.
Jake took this as his cue to get started. Looking at the list, he stood. Before he made his way over to the ingredient cabinet, he looked at Snape. “Professor?”
Snape frowned. “What for?”
Jake shrugged. “Everything,” he stated simply.
The professor merely chuckled darkly. There was something in that laugh that Jake didn’t like.
“Go get the ingredients,” the older man ordered sharply.
“Yes, sir,” In spite of himself, Jake smiled as he walked across the room.
Alice still couldn’t believe that this was real.
For so many years she had been there, screaming to get out but no one could hear her. She had sobbed when Neville came to visit, willing her eyes to focus on him, willing her body to go to him to no avail. He was so close yet she could not reach him. And Frank. That was almost worse. He was there with her every day, but as far as she could tell he was a trapped as she. So many times she just wanted to curl up in her husband’s comforting arms and have him just hold her like they did on so many cold winter nights. But she couldn’t.
But she was free now. She knew that there was a chance the change wasn’t permanent; she hoped to hell it was. Going back to that mental prison would be intolerable, not after this taste of freedom.
The door opened to her small room, and Alice glanced up, beaming at her son. He had been with her off and on since she had been freed; he had been going back and forth between her room and Frank’s.
Neville hugged her tightly, as if he never wanted to let go. Hell, he probably doesn’t! she thought to herself. She returned the embrace in full measure.
“I have some great news,” Neville whispered gently in her ear before pulling away to sit in the chair opposite her, though he still held her hand tightly.
“What…is…it?” Alice asked. She was starting to get the hang of speaking again, she just had to have some patience. It was easier said than done.
Neville beamed at her as she spoke, tears of joy welling up in his eyes. “Sorry,” he muttered, wiping them away furiously. Alice gave her son’s hand a strong squeeze. “The Healers told me that both you and Dad are doing well enough now that you can see each other.”
Alice felt tears of her own begin to stream down her face. “Mer…lin…” she whispered though a smile.
Neville hugged her again. “It’ll be alright, Mum,”
His comforting words just made the tears flow faster. “I….know.”
Frank felt like his heart was going to beat of out his chest. Alice was coming. Alice was coming, and she would be able to talk to him. And he would be able to talk to her.
Twenty long and lonely years had passed here. His wife had been by his side, but it wasn’t Alice. He missed her. He missed the way she always told him what she thought, especially when he was doing something the wrong way. He missed her spunk and independence. It broke his heart to see such a strong woman taken care of as if she was a helpless baby. He missed her being a wonderful mother.
Frank smiled. Neville. He couldn’t believe that his son was grown, but his mother had done an excellent job raising his boy. He couldn’t be prouder.
The door opened. A Healer escorted Alice into the room and he stood, mesmerized by his glowing wife.
“Frank!” she managed to get out, the words a little rough from lack of use. He barely registered Neville entering the room before Alice rushed over and threw her arms around him. Her eyes bored into him, very much alert. “Is this…real? Are you…r-r-really here?” He knew exactly what she meant.
Frank leaned down, not breaking eye contact, and kissed his wife deeply in reply. He pulled back after a few moments. “Was…that…r-r-real…enough…for…you?” he asked, a goofy grin plastered on his face.
Alice nodded, smiling as tears ran down her face. She looked over her shoulder and beckoned Neville over. Frank reluctantly let go of his wife to put his arm around his son. The three embraced lovingly.
They were finally a family again.
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