Chapter 11 : Neville\'s Misfortune
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Eleven – Neville’s Misfortune
Jessica gently tapped the
point of her fingernail against one of the glass jars that lined the front wall
of the empty Potions classroom. The sight of some of the pickled specimens
nearly made her sick. Some were so vulgar looking she didn’t bother asking
Severus to tell her what it was she was looking at.
One jar’s contents had a
family of white mice floating around inside. Jessica reached her finger up to
the jar and tapped it three times.
“Why do you do that?”
Severus asked contemptuously.
Jessica shrugged. “I
“They’re dead,” he
assured. “They won’t start jumping out at you if you keep doing that. I can
take you back to my office if that’s really what you’d like to see.”
“Another time perhaps.”
sounded behind her. When he stopped, Jessica could feel the front of his robes
brush up against her backside. Jessica leaned forward until her face was no
less than two inches away from a particularly peculiar jar of something
“Boomslang skin,” he
murmured from behind her. Severus took one step to her right and put his hands
over his knees to tuck himself down to her level. “A vital ingredient for a
number of concoctions, one being the common Polyjuice Potion.”
With her eyes widened in curiosity,
Jessica moved her gaze along from one jar of specimens to the next. Beside the
Boomslang skin was a jar full of pickled tarantulas. They were so still,
completely submerged in the cloud of green liquid.
“Have you ever been
fooled by someone’s use of the Polyjuice Potion?” Jessica asked curiously. For
the first time since he had brought her into his classroom, Jessica took her
eyes away from the abundance of trinkets and specimens and turned toward him.
“I have,” he told her.
Severus stood up straight and took Jessica’s hands in his to pull her up with
him. “I don’t suppose you have.”
Her head shook almost
unnoticeably. “No, I haven’t. Physically one can use magic to temporarily
appear as another, but no magic in the world can alter what’s in here.” Jessica
lightly tapped her fingers against his temples and then soothingly began to
massage him. “This is what I feel.”
His eyes drifted close
and a shallow moan somehow escaped his closed mouth. Severus reached up and
took Jessica’s hands down from his head. His lips touched her hands and dotted
her skin with kisses as he brought their hands down together.
“You’d better go now,”
Severus told her. “My students will be arriving soon. I’ve got the first years
and ironically enough I’ll be showing them how to properly brew an anti-venom
serum today, so I’m sure you and the Madam will have some work to do within the
Severus put his hand over
Jessica’s shoulder as he ushered her out of the classroom. As soon as they were
out in the open area Severus let his hand slipped down the centre of Jessica’s
back and then folded his hands together behind his back.
“Will I see you again
today?” Jessica asked and smiled courteously. Her shoulders swung back and
forth and she twisted a lock of hair around her finger. “Before dinner
“Perhaps,” Severus said.
“If my schedule permits it.”
“Good.” Jessica smiled
again and reached her hand up to his face so she could kiss him good-bye.
Before she could touch her lips to him, the sound of parading footsteps had
Severus pushing her away from him. Jessica took a step away from him and
watched as the students came down the spiral staircase.
The tiny shadows of
Severus’ first year students coming down the stone stairs were the first to
catch Jessica's eye. Then, as Severus let out a miserable sigh, the Gryffindor
trio appeared with their books in hand.
Harry was the first to
look up and see Jessica standing only a foot or two away from his livid Potions
professor. Snape crossed his arms over his chest and glared down at Harry just
as he always did when the eleven-year-old boy came into his view. Jessica
didn’t share the professor’s exasperated expression. When she caught Harry’s
eye she smiled politely and opened her mouth slightly as if to silently utter a
‘hello.’ Harry retorted with a nod and then steps aside as his friends tailed
Ron followed immediately
afterward and came to an abrupt stop as soon as his feet stepped off of the
staircase and touched the stone floor. The moment he saw Jessica his eyes widened
and his jaw fell open.
She could feel his shock
and the flood of lovesick emotions that consumed him. At the very same time
that Ron was drowning in infatuation, Snape was turning into the jealous
boyfriend she knew he was capable of becoming. Although she knew Severus would
never approve of being referred to as her ‘boyfriend’ or admit that a child was
capable of invoking jealousy, there was no doubt in Jessica’s mind that if Ron
ever tore his gaze away from Jessica long enough to see the murderous stare in
Snape’s eyes, he’d probably turn as white as a ghost and melt right into the
Hermione trailed right
behind Ron. She stopped behind him for a moment and peeked over his shoulder to
see what was keeping him from clearing the path. Her eyes turned to Snape and
Jessica and she immediately knew that his boyish fantasies were taking a toll
right now. Hermione rolled her eyes and shook her head as she walked around him
and went straight into the classroom.
“Come on Ron, let’s go.”
Harry tugged at the sleeve of Ron’s second hand robe and tried to lead him over
to the classroom. He wouldn’t budge. Ron hugged his books to his chest and
gulped before he slowly started putting one foot in front of the other and
stepped towards the classroom with Harry. His eyes remained fixed on Jessica
and she could feel how badly he wanted to say something to her.
Jessica looked up at the
irate expression on Snape’s face and whispered softly in his direction. “I
think you may just have a volunteer to send to the Hospital Wing this morning.”
Snape’s mumbles were
drowned out by the fresh sound of more footsteps thundering down the staircase.
Laughter accompanied their loud parade and then the notorious Slytherin trio
appeared. Draco Malfoy watched both of his friends punch their shoulders into
Ron and Harry’s back as they pushed on by. Curious as to why the red head
barely budged when Crabbe and Goyle tried to knock him over, Malfoy stopped
next to Ron and eyed him curiously.
His gaze was still
hypnotically fixed on Jessica and his jaw looked as if it was nearly ready to
fall off. Malfoy made a disgusting face at Ron. “What’s the matter with you,
Ron didn’t answer. He
just stood in his fixed position and gasped as he watched Jessica making small
talk with the professor.
“Leave him alone,
Malfoy.” Harry gave Ron’s sleeve another tug and desperately tried to make him
get a move on.
Malfoy looked at Jessica
and then sniggered to himself as he realized what had Ron so intrigued. “Ha
ha,” he chuckled. “Don’t flatter yourself too much, Weasley. What makes you
think you could ever have a girl like her?”
Malfoy lifted an eyebrow
as he assessed Jessica. She had dressed in a creamy coloured robe with an
abundance of gold trimming to match the accessories she had around her neck and
on her fingers. The dress she wore beneath the thin robe glistened in gold as
well. It exposed a tiny measure of clevage and fit tightly around her stomach
before flowing down to her ankles.
“Even if your family sold
everything they owned, you still wouldn’t be able to afford that necklace she’s
got on,” Malfoy supposed.
Ron finally broke his
gaze from Jessica and glared at his rival. “Shut up, Malfoy.” Ron looked back
at Jessica and watched her spread her lips into the sweetest smile he’d ever
seen. It nearly crushed his heart to see that it was Snape she was smiling at.
“A girl as charming as she is would never fancy the likes of you.”
Malfoy laughed again.
“Are you kidding me Weasley? That’s Professor Snape she’s talking to. Obviously
she does fancy Slytherin material.” A sly smile crept onto Malfoy’s
face. He bounced his head up and down as he plotted and then glared once more
at Ron. “Watch this.”
Malfoy walked up to
Professor Snape and Jessica. Ron watched from the base of the staircase and
nearly started fuming when he saw what Malfoy was trying to do.
“Good morning Professor
Snape,” Malfoy greeted with a nod.
Snape eyed his favorite
student curiously and then nodded his head once very slowly. “Mr. Malfoy,” was
his calm reply.
Malfoy turned towards Jessica
and smiled. She returned his smile and then watched him extend a hand to her.
“I don’t believe we’ve met,” Malfoy began. “My name is Draco Malfoy.”
Jessica reached her own
hand out and shook with the young boy. Another sweet smile spread across her face
and she looked at the Slytherin symbol on his black robe. “Well Draco Malfoy,
my name is Jessica Van Eden. It’s a pleasure to meet you.”
“The pleasure is all mine
my lovely lady,” Malfoy assured and turned Jessica’s hand up before gently
dotting her with a kiss.
Once Malfoy’s lips
touched her hand, Jessica felt a surge of rage building up in the professor
standing next to her. He opened his mouth, readying to explode in disapproving
anger until Jessica interrupted him by letting out a delicate laugh.
“What a sweet young man,”
Jessica complimented as she ran her hand down the side of Malfoy’s face. “Tell
me something Draco, are you always this charming or has your Head of House been
rubbing off on you?”
“That’s enough,” Snape
implied. “Off with you, Malfoy.”
Malfoy obeyed his
professor and nodded in understanding. He smiled proudly at Jessica and then
turned his head over his shoulder to sneer at Ron. The young boy’s face was as
red as his hair and the pure heartbroken frown withered away his pleasure.
“Come on Ron,” Harry said
and started to push his friend towards the classroom. “Let’s go before he has
time to dock us for lingering around.”
Several more students
came down the stairs and followed behind Ron and Harry into the Potions
classroom. They were all quiet. No of them dared make too much noise while
their professor stood between the classroom door and the spiral staircase.
“Try to enjoy yourself,”
Jessica encouraged as she gave Severus’ hand a little squeeze. “I’ll see you
The term of endearment
she chose wrought a tiny shiver. Snape turned the corner of his mouth up into a
minuscule smile and he nodded her off. “Later,” was his reply.
Snape watched as Jessica
began walking towards the stairs, one more pair of footsteps came sounding from
the staircase. Heaving in short breaths, Neville Longbottom came down with a
pile of books in one arm and his wand in the other.
The professor glared at
the boy when their eyes met and the sudden shock of being greeted so foully
made Neville lose his concentration. He thought he’d reached the bottom of the
staircase when he in fact had one stair left to descend.
He tripped over the last
step and fell flat onto his stomach. The books in his hands scattered across
the stone floor and his wand ignited a yellow bolt that went straight up
towards the ceiling.
There was a large black
iron chandelier holding twelve large wax candles hanging directly above
Jessica. The bolt from Neville’s wand struck the chandelier and sent it into a
mad swing. In a split second a downfall of liquid-hot candle wax showered over
Jessica like a spell of rain.
Snape heard her scream
and immediately raced to her side. Before he could reach Jessica, the mass of
iron hanging from the ceiling broke free from the chains supporting it and came
The panic-struck Neville
watched in awe and in terror as Snape dashed under the chandelier’s collision
course and pulled Jessica out of danger just in time. The chandelier smashed to
the floor and sent a shattering tremor through the entirety of the dungeons.
Pieces of stone and ivory cement flew from the scene and left the area in a
cloud of dust.
Students that had already
gone into the classroom came out to see what had happened. Gasps and
frightening sighs came from every direction. Neville coughed as he tried to
keep from breathing in the debris.
Barely a foot away from
the chandelier, Snape crouched down with his cape draped over Jessica’s still
body. Once it was silent again, Snape lifted his head and batted the dust away
from his face. Jessica had her arms wrapped tightly around his torso and her
face was buried in his chest. He could see splashes of hardened candle wax on
her clothes, skin and in her hair.
“Are you all right?” he
Jessica batted her eyes
open and then looked up at him. She nodded her head and loosened her grip
around him. “I’m fine. Thank you for-”
“Don’t say it,” Snape
ordered. He didn’t want to hear her say that he’d saved her life, although he
probably had. The weight of the iron chandelier would have crushed her like a
Snape helped Jessica up
onto her feet. When he stood up he felt himself being held back around his neck
by the black cape. The sound of threads ripping apart drew his attention to the
spot where his cape had caught between the chandelier and the distorted floor.
He tried to pull it free a couple of times but only heard more ripping. After a
third attempt the splitting sounds were drowned out by the furious sound of
Snape’s desperate attempt to shed himself of the torn attire. He swung his body
around and became even more infuriated after each time he heard the sound of
the threads splitting up the seam.
Jessica caught a corner
of his cape and freed him of it with a wave of her hand. She held the material
in her hands and tucked her fists under her chin. Snape calmed himself for a
moment and looked at the scatter of blistering red skin she was trying to hide.
The candle wax began to crumble and flake off. The injuries she sustained
weren’t serious, but she’d need Madam Pomfrey’s attention.
“Wait here,” Snape
instructed and lightly brushed pieces of debris off of Jessica’s robe. “Let me
deal with this and I’ll bring you to the Hospital Wing myself.”
The anger that sounded in
his voice was unmatched by any tone she had heard thus far. It was only an
accident, but Jessica knew Severus was going to make the poor student
responsible suffered dearly for it.
Neville was still on his stomach at
the foot end of the stairs when he heard Professor Snape’s footsteps
approaching him. His dust covered boots were the first to come into his view.
With his jaw hanging open in sheer terror, Neville slowly looked up from his
boots to his fuming stare. If he knew he wasn’t about to get into the worst
case of trouble yet this year, Neville would have chuckled at the sight of
Professor Snape covered from head to toe in the ivory coloured debris. His hair
looked grey and the front of his black clothes were covered in dust.
An enraged hand reached
out for Neville and pulled him to his feet by the collar of his robes. Neville
choked and coughed once Snape let go of him. The livid professor ground his
teeth together and gave the boy a hard shove at the shoulder.
“You stupid foolish
imbecile!” Snape growled. “Give me that!” Before Neville knew what Snape was
talking about, the professor tore Neville’s wand out of his hand and threw it
as far down the corridor as he could. “I’VE TOLD YOU THERE ARE NO WANDS IN MY
With his feet barely
touching the floor as Snape hauled him into the classroom, Neville tried hard
to utter an apology. “I’m… I’m… s-s-sorry, P-Professor.”
“Sorry isn’t going to
save you now!” Snape assured and he threw Neville down into a chair. His hands
slammed down and pressed firmly into the counter. Snape leaned over until his
face was less than a foot away from Neville’s. The professor was so furious,
Neville could feel the heat coming off of his face. “DO YOU REALIZE WHAT YOU
COULD HAVE DONE?”
Neville’s bottom lip
quivered as he whimpered a reply. “It was an accident, Professor. I swear it.”
“ACCIDENT OR NOT, YOU
NEARLY HAD SOMEONE KILLED!” Snape closed his eyes for a moment and turned his
head to the side as he drove the thought of losing Jessica out of his mind.
After only knowing her for such a short time he was already terrified at the
thought of losing her.
Snape’s eyes turned black
when he looked back at Neville. He could see the fear in the child’s eyes and
for the first time in a long while he hated seeing how much fear he had driven
into his student. Neville’s fear didn’t include fear of losing Jessica. He was
only afraid of the consequences Snape would have him suffer.
Although Snape knew it
was necessary that Neville receive some sort of punishment, he knew in the pit
of his stomach that no House deduction or detention would justify the potential
loss Snape would have had to endure for the rest of his life.
“Fifty points from your
house,” Snape decided hastily. “And I’ll have you serve detention once I think
of something fitting for your actions.”
Slowly Snape straightened
his posture and brushed some of the filth from his pants. The cloud of dust
surrounded Neville and he coughed again.
Snape made way for the
door and put his hand along the wall before he left. His head turned towards
Neville and he glared as he shook his head. “I will never understand how a
pathetic little Squib like you ever became a Gryffindor.”
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